As this article provides an overview only, we highly recommend you use the government’s Brexit checker to find out what the new rules mean for your business and to get a personalised list of actions. It covers rules for individuals as well as businesses – for example, travelling in Europe after Brexit.
Is there really potential for supply chain disruption?
Not having to pay tariffs on goods is a relief, but companies in England, Scotland and Wales will need to complete new customs declarations on goods – just as they would for non-EU countries. (Northern Ireland, on the other hand, stays in the EU single market for goods, which means Northern Ireland effectively follows the same rules as the EU. So any goods arriving from England, Scotland or Wales into Northern Ireland are also supposed to have a customs declaration, and some products may be subject to additional certification.)
The biggest concern here is that confusion about the new rules – say, if new paperwork is incomplete or incorrect – could lead to delays at ports. To give companies time to get used to the new paperwork, the UK government has said it will delay making most checks for six months. However, the EU (which, at least in terms of goods, includes Northern Ireland) is expected to carry out checks straight away – and delays at ports in France or Northern Ireland will undoubtedly impact UK supply chains, perhaps even causing backlogs at ports like Dover.
Michael Gove has said businesses can expect ‘bumpy moments’ in the year ahead, which could turn out to be an understatement. As with so much of Brexit, only time will tell. At the time of writing, BBC News was already reporting some problems with the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Hopefully such supply chain problems are short-lived – but coming on the back of 2020 and COVID-19 disruption, we could all do with fewer bumpy moments, not more.
What can your businesses do now to protect itself?
It’s clear that Brexit may impact your business in more ways than one – whether it’s in terms of general financial uncertainty, changes to hiring practices, grappling with new customs rules or navigating supply chain disruption. So what can you do to get ready for this?
Perhaps the best thing you can do for your business right now is to honestly assess whether you have the right in-house skills and knowledge to manage the Brexit-related changes coming in 2021. And if you don’t, that’s okay. There are people out there who can help.
As an example, here at Roc Search, our pool of experienced logistics contractors and supply chain professionals have been busy helping clients plan for Brexit changes and prepare for supply chain uncertainty. Dipping into a flexible talent pool is a great way to mitigate uncertainty and plug skills gaps, without having to commit to long-term or permanent new hires. With the combination of Brexit and COVID-19 pushing the uncertainty-o-meter ever higher, this flexibility brings some welcome relief.
If you need to plug skills gaps in your organisation, Roc Search can help. Our recruiters have access to a vast pool of interim supply chain contractors across a variety of roles. Drop us a line to discuss how Roc Search can help your business navigate 2021 with more confidence.