Brexit negotiations

58% of UK business leaders value trade as top priority for Brexit negotiations

Most UK business leaders (58%) have cited having the right trade arrangements with the EU as the top priority of Brexit negotiations, according to the latest research.

A survey of UK business leaders by finance company MarketInvoice has found that only 18% of leaders stated that access to EU workers was a priority, while just 7% saw the stability of sterling as key.

When looking at what was keeping UK business leaders awake at night, more than half (53%) of respondents were most concerned about the current uncertain economic environment, followed by the stability of the government (15%), foreign worker rights (8%) or a weak pound (1%).

Anil Stocker, CEO and co-founder of MarketInvoice, said: “Business leaders are clearly focused on ensuring they are prepared to do business before worrying about people issues.

“Anecdotal feedback from this survey is that businesses in the UK are getting on with it, but are clearly unsettled, which doesn’t make for a healthy business environment.”

A majority of businesses leaders (54%) reported that their hiring plans had been largely unaffected in 2017.

More than a third (38%) of businesses felt that they would face a cash squeeze over the next six months.

To address this, 35% of them would turn to invoice finance, followed by bank overdrafts (30%), while only 6% would use a personal credit card.

Anil added: “While hiring concerns are relatively stable for business, they need to be focused on managing their working capital needs in H2 2017.”

Research showed that a third (34%) of businesses would abandon expansion plans, 33% would forgo launching new products, while a fifth (20%) would reduce marketing spend.

“These are things that will impact the wider economy and could make for tough decisions for business leaders.”

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