Collated Information A ‘Missed Opportunity’ To Make Sufficient Information Accessible
Lawyers have welcomed new government webpages collating Brexit transition guidance for businesses by sector, but say the failure to make the core data easily accessible is a ‘missed opportunity’.
Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell highlighted the absence of detail on the webpages. This is made worse by the volume of materials involved, the complexity of the issues, and how urgently users need to understand the guidance to be ready for the imminent end of the transition period.
While the guidance isn’t new, lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say locating all the data in one place for each business sector is a step forward. But the law firm’s experts have pointed out that a central library of all essential information, common to all and easy to find, would have been a natural next step to take. The lack of detail, particularly around services and trade deals, limits the value of these resources at this critical time.
Irwin Mitchell has sought to help by providing overviews of key topics and access to more detailed resources through its Brexit hub. The hub has a lot of key information consolidated in one place to help our clients work out what they should be focusing on in the remaining days available. This is particularly important given the weaknesses in the government’s public-facing documentation at this critical time, with less than 50 days remaining to the end of the transition period.
New government webpages bring transition advice for different sectors into one place for the first time. But details can be hard to find, and the content is superficial, incomplete and full of links to further links. The ‘trade deals concluded’ pages are particularly weak, and the guidance on working under World Trade Organisation rules is principally a link to the WTO’s website.
Sectors covered by the new webpages include:
- Digital, technology and computer services
- Telecoms and information services
- Media and broadcasting
- Consumer goods
- Services and investment
- Electronics and machinery
Many of the documents run to thousands of words. A central location for some of the key areas common to all would be a benefit to businesses struggling to be ready for transition.
In Brexit events conducted by Irwin Mitchell in recent weeks, many of the concerns expressed by those in different business sectors appear across the sector guidance issued by the government. These include issues surrounding workforce, importing and exporting, data protection and practical concerns, such as getting an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number.
The government has launched a ‘Brexit taskforce’ to help firms prepare for this “challenging time”. Clear, complete, realistic and user-friendly sector information should therefore be another critical plank in government efforts to see firms ready in time.
Expert Opinion“Bringing guidance for different sectors into one place on the eve of Brexit is a welcome, if overdue, move by the government.
“It’s a missed opportunity to provide complete, simple, clear materials with sufficient time for business to be able to understand and then act on them.
“With the time given to Brexit talks now being measured in days rather than weeks, businesses need the full facts now. These must be at a level of detail, clarity and usability that can actually be acted on in the time that remains available. There’s a risk in all these new content-heavy sector pages that some users may not be able to see the wood for the trees.
“The key pages are going to be those focused on practical issues, such as the workforce and import and export concerns. But not everyone who needs to see this information will find it easy to locate. More could and should be done to make the essentials easier to navigate, and the limited content on services is very noticeable.
“It’s a welcome step in the right direction at what is now a critical time for those preparing for the end of the transition period. But it’s not as straightforward, complete or timely as many would’ve liked.” Bruce Macmillan - General Counsel
Many of the key issues and concerns businesses may have can also be found via the Irwin Mitchell Brexit hub.