Posts Tagged ‘EU’

Damage limitation

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The phrase “in-limbo” comes to mind when describing the present outlook for businesses in the UK. What will be the outcome of the June election? What will be the outcome of the withdrawal from the EU?

We will all likely be affected. If not directly involved in trade with Europe, we are possibly part of the downward supply chain.

What to do?

First of all, damage limitation planning may be appropriate. If part of your export sales are with Europe, or with firms who supply goods or services to Europe, there is an increased risk that your future prospects may be negatively affected post Brexit. Accordingly, you could:

  • See what opportunities there are to seek out new markets outside the EU.
  • Collaborate with customers who are dependent on EU sales to make joint approaches to non-EU markets.
  • What government assistance is available?
  • Take a fresh look at investment decisions to see if it would be more prudent to retain liquidity, or reduce borrowings to meet any future financial challenges.

It would also be illuminating to prepare realistic financial forecasts based on various what-if criteria.

There are compelling reasons for being prepared and the present hiatus may be that quiet period before the storm that gives us the space to do just that. Businesses that have concerns should face their anxieties head-on, and we can help.

Government to replace EU funding

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Thousands of British organisations will receive guarantees over EU funding in a new move by Chancellor Philip Hammond last month.

Key projects supporting economic development across the UK will be given the green light, ending uncertainty over their future following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Assurances set out by the Treasury include:

·         all structural and investment fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed before the Autumn Statement, will be fully funded, even when these projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU

·         the Treasury will also put in place arrangements for assessing whether to guarantee funding for specific structural and investment fund projects that might be signed after the Autumn Statement, but while we remain a member of the EU. Further details will be provided ahead of the Autumn Statement

·         where UK organisations bid directly to the European Commission on a competitive basis for EU funding projects while we are still a member of the EU, for example universities participating in Horizon 2020, the Treasury will underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU

As a result, British businesses and universities will have certainty over future funding and should continue to bid for competitive EU funds while the UK remains a member of the EU.

And in a new boost to the UK’s agricultural sector Mr Hammond also guaranteed that the current level of agricultural funding under CAP Pillar 1 will be upheld until 2020, as part of the transition to new domestic arrangements.

The Treasury will work closely with the devolved administrations on subsequent funding arrangements to allow them to prioritise projects within their devolved responsibilities.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said:

“The UK will continue to have all of the rights, obligations and benefits that membership brings, including receiving European funding, up until the point we leave the EU.

We recognise that many organisations across the UK which are in receipt of EU funding, or expect to start receiving funding, want reassurance about the flow of funding they will receive.

That is why I am confirming that structural and investment funds projects signed before the Autumn Statement and Horizon research funding granted before we leave the EU will be guaranteed by the Treasury after we leave. The government will also match the current level of agricultural funding until 2020, providing certainty to our agricultural community, which play a vital role in our country.

We are determined to ensure that people have stability and certainty in the period leading up to our departure from the EU and that we use the opportunities that departure presents to determine our own priorities.”

Changes to business market place post Brexit

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

While we wait for the politicians to sort themselves out it may be prudent to reflect on the likely changes to the business market place post Brexit. For example:

  • If the sterling exchange rate settles at a lower level the cost of imported goods will rise and our exporters may benefit as their goods and services will be priced lower in overseas buyer’s markets.
  • If the rising cost of imports triggers inflation the Bank of England may have to step in and increase interest rates. This will increase the cost of borrowing; business profits will suffer as will cash flow.
  • An alternative scenario is also possible. The Bank of England may reduce interest rates to encourage investment and lower the cost of borrowing for UK businesses and home owners.
  • Firms that trade in the property sector will need to keep a weather eye on demand as buyers may be discouraged by the overall uncertainty about the longer term outlook for interest rates. As a consequence, we may see the property market flat-line or prices fall.
  • Uncertainty may encourage banks and other lenders to be more cautious when considering loans. Cash flow management should possibly shift towards the top of to-do lists, just in case there is downward pressure if credit does tighten up.
  • Businesses and non-profit making enterprises that rely on EU funding should contact their funding agencies as soon as possible. Be prepared. Start looking for alternative funding now. Support for farmers and other key groups will hopefully be replaced by UK government grants.
  • Businesses that trade with the rest of the EU will need to re-examine their sales and marketing strategy for the future. If and when the final EU curtain falls they may find their exports subject to tariffs. Time to start looking for alternative export markets or ways to increase penetration in the home market.
  • Firms that are part of the supply chain for multinational concerns will need to be vigilant. Car manufactures, pharmaceutical companies, international banks and others, that have based their operations in the UK as a spring board to the EU markets, could possibly reconsider their options.
  • If consumer demand in the UK hardens, the ability to pass on increased costs may become a problem for smaller businesses already coping with smaller margins and shrinking demand for their products and services.
  • Finally, we may have face tax increases as the UK struggles to balance its books and repay debt.

Businesses will need to be on their guard. Businesses and individuals should be watchful and stay positive. There are small business owners who would say that they were held back by EU regulation and will now be free to explore alternative markets. There are others that will be concerned by any loss of access to European markets. In any event, it pays to trim your sails if a storm is forecast, even if it blows over.

What is next for Brexit

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Clients who are concerned by the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote should contact us. There are steps we can all take now that will ease our progress through the transition.

Essentially, we need to be financially fit. The areas of our businesses that we should fine tune are:

  1. Record keeping. There has never been a time when fast access to financial data has been more important. If you don’t use accounting software now may be a good time to research what is available.
  2. Cash flow. Maintaining liquidity, cash in the bank, or spare capacity in your overdraft facility will make it easier for your business to weather the storm. Credit is likely to harden as time progresses. Dust off your credit control procedures and offer a selection of payment options including payment by credit card.
  3. Reconsider investment decisions and focus on those that will enable you to increase sales or reduce costs.
  4. Take a hard look at costs and trim any “gym membership” type expenditure that no longer makes a positive contribution to your business.
  5. Cast around for alternate suppliers that offer a better price deal.

And last but not least, take advice. If you have any concerns about the effects of the vote on your business, please call.

Brexit vote wins the day

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

In a decision that has staggered the rest of Europe, the UK has voted to leave the EU.

George Osborne emerged today to reassure us all that everything was under control. This, in the face of continuing political hiatus: our prime minister has resigned, almost, and the main opposition party is locked in internal, leadership wranglings.

George Osborne said:

“Today (27 June 2016) I want to reassure the British people, and the global community, that Britain is ready to confront what the future holds for us from a position of strength. That is because in the last six years the government and the British people have worked hard to rebuild the British economy.

We have worked systematically through a plan that today means Britain has the strongest major advanced economy in the world. Growth has been robust. The employment rate is at a record high. The capital requirements for banks are ten times what they were.

And the budget deficit has been brought down from 11% of national income, and was forecast to be below 3% this year. I said we had to fix the roof so that we were prepared for whatever the future held. Thank goodness we did.

As a result, our economy is about as strong as it could be to confront the challenge our country now faces. That challenge is clear. On Thursday, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. That is not the outcome that I wanted or that I threw everything into campaigning for.

But Parliament agreed that there are issues of such constitutional significance that they cannot solely be left to politicians, and must be determined by the people in a referendum. Now the people have spoken and we, in this democracy, must all accept that result and deliver on their instructions.

I don’t resile from any of the concerns I expressed during the campaign, but I fully accept the result of the referendum and will do everything I can to make it work for Britain. It is inevitable, after Thursday’s vote, that Britain’s economy is going to have to adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in.

In the analysis that the Treasury and other independent organisations produced, three particular challenges were identified – and I want to say how we meet all three.

First, there is the volatility we have seen and are likely to continue to see in financial markets. Those markets may not have been expecting the referendum result – but the Treasury, the Bank of England, and the Financial Conduct Authority have spent the last few months putting in place robust contingency plans for the immediate financial aftermath in the event of this result. We and the PRA have worked systematically with each major financial institution in recent weeks to make sure they were ready to deal with the consequences of a vote to leave.

Swap lines were arranged in advance so the Bank of England is now able to lend in foreign currency if needed. As part of those plans, the Bank and we agreed that there would be an immediate statement on Friday morning from the Governor, Mark Carney. As Mark made clear, the Bank of England stands ready to provide £250 billion of funds, through its normal facilities, to continue to support banks and the smooth functioning of markets.

And we discussed our co-ordinated response with other major economies in calls on Friday with the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G7. The Governor and I have been in regular touch with each other over the weekend – and I can say this this morning: we have further well-thought-through contingency plans if they are needed.

In the last 72 hours I have been in contact with fellow European finance ministers, central bank governors, the managing director of the IMF, the US Treasury Secretary and the Speaker of Congress, and the CEOs of some of our major financial institutions so that collectively we keep a close eye on developments.

It will not be plain sailing in the days ahead. But let me be clear. You should not underestimate our resolve. We were prepared for the unexpected. We are equipped for whatever happens. And we are determined that unlike eight years ago, Britain’s financial system will help our country deal with any shocks and dampen them – not contribute to those shocks or make them worse.

The second challenge our analysis identified in advance was the uncertainty that a vote to leave would bring in the coming months and beyond as Britain worked with its European allies to create a new relationship. The Prime Minister has given us time as a country to decide what that relationship should be by delaying the decision to trigger the Article 50 procedure until there is a new Prime Minister in place for the autumn.

Only the UK can trigger Article 50, and in my judgement we should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangement we are seeking with our European neighbours.

In the meantime, and during the negotiations that will follow, there will be no change to people’s rights to travel and work, and to the way our goods and services are traded, or to the way our economy and financial system is regulated.

However, it is already evident that as a result of Thursday’s decision, some firms are continuing to pause their decisions to invest, or to hire people. As I said before the referendum, this will have an impact on the economy and the public finances – and there will need to be action to address that.

Given the delay in triggering Article 50 and the Prime Minister’s decision to hand over to a successor, it is sensible that decisions on what that action should consist of should wait for the OBR to assess the economy in the autumn, and for the new Prime Minister to be in place.

But no one should doubt our resolve to maintain the fiscal stability we have delivered for this country. To all companies large and small I would say this: the British economy is fundamentally strong, we are highly competitive and we are open for business.

The third and final challenge I spoke of was that of ensuring that Britain was able to agree a long-term economic relationship with the rest of Europe that provided for the best possible terms of trade in goods and services. Together, my colleagues in the government, the Conservative Party and in Parliament will have to determine what those terms should be – and we’ll have to negotiate with our European friends to agree them. I intend to play an active part in that debate – for I want this great trading nation of ours to put in place the strongest possible economic links with our European neighbours, with our close friends in North America and the Commonwealth, and our important partners like China and India.

I do not want Britain to turn its back on Europe or the rest of the world. We must bring unity of spirit and purpose and condemn hatred and division wherever we see it. Britain is an open and tolerant country and I will fight with everything I have to keep it so.

Today I am completely focussed on the task in hand as Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring stability and reassurance. In conclusion, the British people have given us their instructions. There is much to do to make it work. We start from a position of hard-won strength. And whatever the undoubted challenges, my colleagues and I are determined to do the best for Britain.”

In or out

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

This article was posted three days before the UK decides if it wants to stay or leave the EU.

It feels as if everything is on hold pending this result. Government departments are being unusually quiet: no press releases, no announcements, no changes in legislation.

It is a well-quoted cliché, but it really does feel like the calm before the storm.

Whichever way the result goes, will businesses, politics or our daily lives ever feel the same again?

How will we unstitch VAT and other taxation regulations from the grip of EU legislation, if Brexit wins the day? Will life carry on as usual if we vote to stay?

The huge raft of smaller businesses that depend on overseas investment will have fingers crossed that whatever the outcome, the businesses that fill their order books will not up-stick and move to Europe – and the perceived larger market inside the open market – leaving UK subcontractors with gaping holes in their order books.

Will the optimism of the Brexit campaigners bear fruit and will the rest of the world open its doors to UK goods and services; more than making up for any loss in trade to the EU?

Change can be stimulating, but on this scale will we avoid the inevitable fall-out, the slowdown in activity, as political and legal systems and alliances adjust? If our national output does fall, will this mean higher taxation or increased borrowing?

Before we post our next articles, the result will be known and we will start to assess the consequences, whichever way the vote goes.

What will happen to VAT and duties if we vote to leave the EU?

Monday, June 20th, 2016

In? Out? The EU Referendum Vote throws up all kinds of possible scenarios. What would happen, for instance, to VAT and duties if there is majority support to leave the European Union?

At present, the UK Government has not clarified what new trading arrangements would replace the existing free trade agreement with the EU. The EU is, remember, Britain’s largest trading partner.

So if your business manufactures or trades within the EU, what could it potentially mean for you?

Border Controls
If the UK leaves the EU, UK businesses will need to deal with border controls on an ‘as and when’ basis – such as when their supplies cross UK-EU borders. What form might these controls take? It might mean that your business will have to satisfy rules of origin or substantial increases in import duties, for example.

The UK might manage to strike a deal with the EU, similar to what Norway has done. That would make it part of the European Economic Area (EEA). Trade is free between EU and EEA countries. The importer would still need to show proof that the products being imported were made in the EU.

But say the UK could not immediately achieve this situation. That would mean import duties would apply – £10,000-worth of goods imported from an EU could attract £800 import duties and £2,000 as VAT.

Customs Unions
Another possibility is something like the Customs Union agreement between Turkey and the EU. This allows goods to be traded between Turkey and EU countries without import duties, and it includes goods that have previously been imported from other countries as well as those that come from the country of export.

Bear in mind duty-free benefits are limited to goods that originate in the UK or the EU. This applies not only to the products, but the origin of the raw materials used.

Goods would still need to undergo customs clearance when they are exported from the country where they are made and when they enter the UK, which would add to the transport costs. And the importer would need to pay VAT at the point of entry – something which does not happen at the moment.

Legal Process
If the Brexit vote carries, it is likely that businesses in the UK will have time to consider what they need to do and if their business model must change. The UK Government has published a paper – The Process of Withdrawing from the European Union. This outlines the legal process of withdrawing the timescales which would apply. The UK would have up to two years to exit the EU as far as the legalities are concerned so current EU VAT and duty legislation would remain in place.

The UK could extend the transition period after the two years, if the majority of member states approve.

Uncertainty about the result of the EU referendum is already having an impact on businesses and the currency market.

If you have any questions about this subject, please contact Botting & Co Certified Chartered Accountants today on 01903 713508.

Switch to our mobile site