According to new research, half of hospitality and event venues and agencies have made little or no preparation for a no-deal Brexit three years after the Referendum vote.

The annual Brexit survey by the HBAA shows 15.6 per cent of respondents have done “some” work to prepare for a no-deal scenario, while 34.4 per cent have done “as much as they can”.

With the UK due to leave the EU on 31 October, a similar proportion of venues and agencies have prepared “as far as they can” for a Customs Agreement or for Single Market membership (29 per cent), 16.2 per cent have done “some” work and 54.8 per cent have done “little or nothing”.

Meanwhile, the third annual HBAA survey reveals Brexit is increasingly having an impact on business and recruitment in the hospitality industry, with only 15.6 per cent of those polled saying they haven’t noticed any effect – a stark drop from the 57.7 per cent that felt the same a year ago.

While the proportion saying the impending exit has had a significant impact has changed very little from last year (6.2 per cent compared to 5.8 per cent), the other major change is in the group that have noticed a slight impact – from 36.5 per cent in 2018 to 78.1 per cent this year.

The effects cited by respondents are a mixture of positive and negative. Following the vote, some saw a benefit from the drop in the value of sterling. Today, there are also reports that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit has led to more business opting to keep their events in the UK instead of going overseas. At the same time, many noted that trade was slow or decreased in the run-up to the original leaving date of 29 March.

The biggest impact reported by venues and agencies was in recruitment, with 18.7 per cent citing a major effect – double the percentage that said the same last year and far more than 2.3 per cent in 2017. Those saying it has had no effect fell to 62.5 per cent from 67.3 per cent a year ago and 80.2 per cent in 2017.

As a result, 19.3 per cent of HBAA members surveyed said they have changed their recruitment policies since the Referendum vote, up from 13.7 per cent in 2018. Twenty-five per cent plan to update their policy in the next two years.

HBAA chair Angie Mason commented: “Most organisations are trying to focus on ‘business as usual’ as it is virtually impossible to prepare for every eventuality while the uncertainty continues. But it is proving difficult.

“Whatever the outcome, the need for immediate and long-term action to address recruitment issues is clear. A key element of the solution is the Next Generation, encouraging them to join the industry and helping them to build satisfying careers in it. The HBAA’s current campaign to support the Next Generation is an important step in helping to resolve the impact that Brexit is having on staffing.”

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