The historic Brexit vote has left a wave of uncertainty in its wake, causing instability in central government, the economy and the property market. With the property market having already slowed, the removals industry is already taking a slight ‘Brexit hit’. It will surely face further challenges in the upcoming months.
The loss of freedom of movement to live and work between the UK and Europe is what may cause the biggest changes within the removals industry, particularly international removals. At present UK removals companies enjoy a free tariff trading agreement with the EU when moving clients to other member states, but with Brexit this is unlikely to continue. As a result, higher tariffs are likely to be imposed on the international removal services of UK companies, potentially making them uncompetitive within the European market.
The loss of freedom of movement will also incur time delays as moving trucks have to spend longer at border checkpoints, further increasing costs. There is also likely to be stricter customs checks and rigorous procedures for those clients making the move to another European country.
It is not just clients who will be affected by the loss of freedom of movement. This will also mean a possible decrease in workforce. Free movement has helped many removals companies to increase their workforce, with additional overseas candidates joining the talent pool, but with no free movement the pool of readily available workers is vastly reduced. As customer bases change and costs rise, this is just another factor that will increase competition between removals companies, particular smaller businesses.
There are, however, possible short-term benefits to Brexit for the removals industry. Many EU nationals are unwilling to wait and see if they will be allowed to remain post-Brexit and so are already looking to move back to another country within the EU. These rapid moves may provide big business. Many UK citizens in particular are also looking at even further moves abroad, with New Zealand and Australian immigration websites gaining more visits and enquiries.
Yet, the vast majority of movers work exclusively within the UK, so how will they be affected? Their successes are keenly linked to that of the property market, which is already showing signs of a reactionary slowing, and until the final exit is made with all agreements between the UK and the EU in place, we cannot gain a fully accurate picture.