Scottish firms fear Brexit is 'bad for business', survey suggests

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Most Scottish firms believe Brexit is bad for their prospects and the economy, according to a survey by the Fraser of Allander Institute.

The economic research institute questioned 320 businesses following the vote on leaving the EU.

The survey found more than 60% of Scottish firms believe Brexit would have a "negative impact" on them.

However, the institute said there was little evidence of companies cancelling investment or recruitment outright.

The Fraser of Allander Institute, an independent research body based at the University of Strathclyde, carried out the survey between 5 July and 12 July, in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

Just over 60% of Scottish firms surveyed said they believed Brexit will have a negative impact on their business, while only 19% said it would have a positive impact. One third said the impact would be "very negative".

About 40% believe that leaving the EU could lead to a decrease in their investment and expansion plans, and 34% said that they could cut back on recruitment.

Investment 'on hold'

More than 70% of firms surveyed as part of the research had done no preparation for the UK exiting the EU.

Two-thirds of businesses said resolution of the uncertainty in the economy was a key issue in the negotiation of the UK's exit from the European Union, while 49% of firms cited access to the single market as a key issue.

However, the survey found little evidence of companies actually cancelling investment or recruitment plans.

A quarter of firms said they had made a decision to change their investment and recruitment plans, though the vast majority - 95% - said that decisions had been postponed rather than cancelled entirely.

Prof Graeme Roy, director of the institute, said: "This is the first hard survey evidence post-referendum of what businesses in Scotland are thinking and how they are responding to the unexpected EU referendum result.

"A clear majority believe that the impact - certainly in the short to medium term - will be negative. The survey offers some evidence that investment and recruitment plans may be being put on hold.

"Resolving the current political and economic uncertainty must now be the key priority. The longer the period of uncertainty continues, the more damaging the impact will be on the economy."