The NHS has set up a 24/7 call centre to deal with supply disruptions in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) will record disruption concerns from any source and offer logistics troubleshooting to suppliers, including access to government-secured freight capacity.
In a letter leaked to SM, Steve Oldfield, chief commercial officer at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “The NSDR processes will monitor the supply situation and coordinate actions to address supply disruption incidents that occur after the UK has exited the EU where normal procedures are unable to provide a resolution.”
He added: “I recognise some of the difficulties in identifying when issues in the supply chain will result in disruption to the continuity of supply. However, I would urge all suppliers/sponsors to report emerging supply issues at the earliest opportunity to the NSDR so that we maximise the time available to identify solutions with you; often ‘early warning signs’ are vital in preventing disruption in the future.”
Meanwhile, the terms of any UK departure from the EU remain unclear as MPs fail to reach a consensus on a way forward and prime minister Theresa May's deal still does not have majority support.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, is expected to tell its annual conference Westminister has “let British business down”, and “elected representatives cannot keep chasing rainbows”.
He said: “Too many critical questions remain unanswered. No one would run a business like this – and it is no way to run a country. It cannot be right that we leave in a way where government itself predicts there will be mass disruption to businesses and communities. It cannot be right that some in Westminster shrug off the possibility of shortages that could affect the wellbeing and the jobs of many people.
“A messy and disorderly exit would not just be deeply irresponsible – it would be a flagrant dereliction of duty.
“The next chapter of our national story is about to be written. It will be a tough period for many in business who will be forced to take difficult decisions due to factors far beyond their own control. But it will also be a time when the dedication and passion of British business truly shines through.”
Meanwhile, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) called for a cross-party agreement that would avoid a no-deal Brexit and the “potentially irreversible impact on cost, productivity and competitiveness”.
Figures from SMMT show total UK car production fell by 15.3% in February year-on-year to 123,203 units, while production has dropped for nine consecutive months. More than half of UK-manufactured cars are exported to the EU.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The ninth month of decline for UK car production should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks this industry, already challenged by international trade hostilities, declining markets and technological disruption, could survive a ‘no deal’ Brexit without serious damage. A managed no deal is a fantasy.
“Uncertainty has already paralysed investment, cost jobs and damaged our global reputation. Business anxiety has now reached fever pitch and we desperately need parliament to come together to restore stability so that we can start to rebuild investor confidence and get back to the business of delivering for the economy.”
Meanwhile, business optimism in the financial services sector has dropped at the fastest rate since the financial crisis of 2008, according to a Confederation of British Industry/PwC survey.
Additional reporting by Lucy Patchett.
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