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Business Department unprepared for Brexit?

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A report published last month has cast serious doubt on how Brexit-ready a key government body is.

According to MPs from the Public Accounts Committee, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has made ‘virtually no attempt’ to prioritise ahead of Britain leaving the EU as it moves from a state of planning to implementation.

According to the PAC, members are gravely concerned that the BEIS is not as prepared for Brexit as it should be.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee said that: “We have grave concerns about this apparent complacency, compounded by the lack of transparency on the department’s progress with what in some cases will be critical projects.

“Sensitivities around negotiations with the EU must not be used as an excuse to keep taxpayers and Parliament in the dark. We urge the government to provide us with a swift update on the issues raised in our report.”

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She continued: “The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy appears to be operating in a parallel universe where urgency is an abstract concept with no bearing on the Brexit process.

“The department is responsible for around a fifth of the work streams the government must complete as the UK leaves the EU. It is an extremely important, challenging and time-sensitive workload.

“Yet the department told us it had not re-prioritised its overall programme of work, had not begun procurement for around a dozen essential digital systems and could not provide vital information about its workforce.”

In the report published by the PAC, it suggested that the Cabinet Office and Department for Exiting the EU needs to carry out an immediate review of planned processes and a draft legislative timeline to navigate Britain’s exit for the EU.

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However, a spokesman for the BEIS said that extra investment and staff recruitment has already begun to help with the undoubted challenges ahead.

“Along with the whole of government, BEIS is focused on getting the best deal for the UK and ensuring a smooth transition for businesses, consumers and workers.

“Since this report was written, BEIS has received £185m of extra funding to help deliver a successful Brexit by employing an increased number of staff on our Europe work, identifying the most pressing legislative challenges and remaining ahead of schedule by recruiting high-calibre staff to ensure we prepare thoroughly and effect.”

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