HM Revenue and Customs has today urged business owners to do more to prepare for a no-deal Brexit by taking steps to ensure they can continue to trade with the EU if the UK leaves the bloc next month without a deal.
HMRC said that its figures indicate that only 17% of businesses that trade with the EU have so far sought the registration they need, in the form of an Economic Operator and Registration Identification (EORI) number to continue trading in the event of a no-deal exit on 29 March.
An estimated 240,000 businesses need to take action to continue trading with the EU if no deal is reached, but only 40,973 have registered for an EORI number.
Financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said that the government wants to “businesses to be able continue trading with minimal disruption in any scenario” but recognised “we also know that people tend to leave things until the last minute and we would urge against that”. Stride urged businesses not to take such a course of action, but said EORI registration was free and could be done in less than 10 minutes.
The update from HMRC comes after the government warned earlier this week that Whitehall’s own preparation for a no-deal Brexit was being hindered by a lack of action from private firms.
A government update on planning for a no-deal Brexit revealed departments are not on track to deliver around one-third of the most critical no-deal projects in time.
According to the data from earlier this month, departments reported being on track for just under 85% of no deal projects but this included just over two-thirds of the most critical projects.
“The delays to no-deal preparations are partly due to communications to third parties, including many businesses, not having the intended effect”, the Implications for Business and Trade of a No Deal Exit on 29 March 2019 report stated. “There is little evidence that businesses are preparing in earnest for a no-deal scenario, and evidence indicates that readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular is low.”
However, it also highlighted that the lack of preparation is “also because the acceleration of preparedness since December [within government] is not yet bringing delivery of these preparations back on track where there has been prior slippage”.