London firms are expected to restart plans to relocate employees to the EU once all COVID-related traveling restrictions are lifted or eased next year, as the number of enterprises considering such a move keeps rising.
Ever since the 2016 referendum, 97 (44%) of the 222 biggest UK financial services companies monitored by UK accounting firm, Ernst & Young LLP (EY), have confirmed that that they would be transferring staff or company operations to the continent, or are currently contemplating it, a number that is up from 41% in January 2020.
While news of Brexit-related relocations has reduced in recent years, EY stated that due to COVID-19 lockdowns and concessions regarding work from home, more relocations have likely been postponed rather than reversed in the previous year.
Omar Ali, EY’s Financial Services Client Services Leader, stated that it has been almost a year since Brexit, wherein the United Kingdom made a formal exit from the European Union. However, the financial sector is still dealing with the fallout. While most of the operational shifts were made way ahead of last year’s Brexit deadline, and before the COVID-19 outbreak, recent travel bans have made relocation more difficult.
Ali predicted that, provided that the number of COVID-19 cases drops, businesses will ratchet up their relocation plans within the next 12 months, with pressure from EU authorities who already railed over ‘brass plate’ accessibility to their markets, where organizations maintain only a small staff presence in the bloc.
In one of the latest signs of the continuing impact Brexit has been having on the nation’s economy, Food and beverages exports dropped 16% during the initial nine months of 2020. As per industry insiders, the sector is blaming the loss on a 24% drop in sales to European nations.
Regardless of the fact that the UK formally left the EU at the beginning of the year, trade negotiations concerning customs checks on supplies entering and departing Northern Ireland are still ongoing, a situation made more challenging by David Frost's departure as Brexit minister over the weekend.