Small and medium-sized businesses in Scotland see more potential benefits from Covid-19 than Brexit, according to a new survey. 

Research carried out by advisory service Business Gateway found that 78 per cent of 300 SMEs questioned remain concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their operations. However, 52% also anticipate some positive changes, such as more efficient working practices and greater resilience to the impact of future crises. 

By contrast, only 38% expect any positive outcomes from Brexit. 

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More than half cited concerns that Brexit will result in increasing taxes or overheads (60%), exchange rate fluctuations (54%), impacts on their supply chains (52%) and a loss in sales (51%). Almost two-fifths agreed that Brexit will mean significant changes to their working practices, and 33% said they will have to restructure their business in response to the UK’s departure from the European trading bloc. 

The findings coincide with the launch of a national Business Gateway campaign to ensure business are aware of and have access to support during these challenging economic times. The free support includes one-to-one advice, online resources and research services. 

“Market conditions for Scottish businesses have never been more difficult,” Business Gateway chairman Steven Heddle said. “Many are still attempting to shore up resilience and survive the pandemic, while also preparing for significant trade disruptions following Brexit. 

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“These findings underpin the critical role that support services play in ensuring that businesses feel prepared and confident in their ability to survive this uncertain period. I would urge all owners and entrepreneurs to use the Business Gateway service to help identify strategies so that they can overcome future challenges.” 

Nearly two-thirds remain worried about surviving a second wave of coronavirus infections, or another future pandemic. More than half – 56% – expect to streamline their working practices because of the Covid-19 crisis, while 53% said they feel better prepared in the case of a potential future pandemic.