SR Timber Trading Director Shaun Revill joined business leaders to tell Conservative Nicky Morgan MP about the realities that businesses are facing as the uncertainty around Brexit continues.
The group – which included the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a high street bank and leading business figures – spoke to Mrs Morgan at the event at Loughborough University and expressed genuine concern about how Parliament and the government are handling what the MP described as a “political and constitutional crisis”.
Shaun was quick to tell the MP for Loughborough about the case of SR Timber.
He said that that since the Referendum in 2016, he has faced constant questions from suppliers – in particular those in SR Timber’s supply chain in the Baltic states – asking what’s happening in the UK. He also said that the continued uncertainty over Brexit means his suppliers are themselves under pressure because the UK is their largest market.
Shaun said: “Mrs Morgan was quick to point out that the civil service and government departments have lots of plans and contingencies in place, but the group criticised the government for not promoting this and not communicating this better to countries in the EU.”
The group discussed the example of transportation costs of distributing materials once they arrive at UK ports and many of the businesses said they had faced rising costs – which they had to absorb because they couldn’t pass them on.
They also discussed how, since the result of the Referendum in 2016 was announced, the value of the pound had plummeted against other currencies and, again, this had driven up costs, which again, businesses around the table said they were struggling to pass on to their customers.
Shaun took the opportunity to highlight the issue of British Standards. He told Mrs Morgan about the case of roofing batten and how there has been a rise in the amount of roofing contractors either knowingly using materials which are non- compliant with current British Standards, or are unwittingly purchasing materials that are counterfeit, in order to save money.
“When I mentioned the case of battens, Mrs Morgan quite rightly asked the question about when regulators are being pushed to enforce standards,” said Shaun. “The reality is that they’re not as robust as they should be. British Standards have been developed for specific reasons – such as the quality of materials – and they should be adhered to, Brexit or no Brexit.”
When asked what contingencies businesses around the table had taken to plan for Brexit, there was a very clear divide between FTSE companies and businesses such as SR Timber.
“The CBI said that some of the largest businesses were spending more than £100m to prepare, and their boards were spending up to 80% of their time planning,” said Shaun. “If we did that, we wouldn’t have a business left to run.”