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Concerns pandemic is distracting from crucial EU Transition preparations

23 November 2020

Evidence suggesting that many Leicestershire businesses might not be prepared for the end of the EU Exit transition period has led to calls to action from local community leaders.

After officially leaving the EU earlier this year, Britain’s transition period officially ends on January 1, 2021, bringing with it a raft of new rules that will apply to businesses from that date.

The Local Resilience Forum (LRF) though is concerned that many Leicestershire businesses have been so focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, that the EU Exit has slipped off their radar completely.

The ‘time is running out’ call comes after only eight per cent of the county’s businesses identified EU Exit as a major obstacle on their horizon in a recent phone survey organised by Leicestershire County Council.

Bev Smith, Chief Executive of North West Leicestershire District Council, who chairs the countywide LRF working group tasked with supporting the region to be prepared for EU Exit, said: “It is a concern for us that January 1 will come round very quickly and businesses won’t be ready for it.

“It’s completely understandable that attentions are elsewhere – it’s been a tough year for businesses and we’re in the middle of our second national lockdown. Unfortunately though this doesn’t change the fact that the transition period will end in a matter of weeks, and our businesses simply have to be ready.

“The last thing Leicestershire needs is further disruption and confusion in our business community in the New Year. This can be prevented by taking action now, but time is running out.

“This is a plea from us to use the Government’s tools and information to check your businesses is prepared, and if you need further help our local authorities stand ready to support you.”

Some of the key points businesses need to be aware of include:

· New customs procedures that will affect goods sold to the EU
· Visas or work permits may now apply for business travel to EU destinations
· The new immigration system may impact overseas nationals working for local firms
· Businesses that receive personal data from contacts in the EEA may need to take extra steps to ensure that the data can continue to flow legally
· Ensure qualifications that allow businesses to practice or service clients in the EU are recognised by EU regulations.

Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Board of Directors, said: “We’re doing as much as we can to support our businesses to be ready for EU Exit in time for 1 January.

“Through our Business Gateway Growth Hub service we’ve been running one to one support sessions and webinars to give tailored and in-depth advice to those that need help – and these will continue to be run on a weekly basis.

“Local authorities are reaching out to businesses too, offering their support and advice. The bottom line is though that only businesses owners themselves can take the steps required to prepare – and the time to act is now.”

For more support visit our dedicated EU Transition support pages.