Wakefield businesses discuss Brexit opportunities

17 February 2020

In their first Roundtable Discussion since the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, business leaders in Wakefield were confident that Brexit throws up many opportunities for the district.

Hosted by Cllr Darren Byford, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Growth, the meeting was designed for private sector businesses to share their views on the potential impacts faced by Brexit and how the Council can support them through these changes.

Local manufacturers, at the meeting, acknowledged that challenges they foresee during the transition period are creative launching pads for potentially sustainable growth opportunities.

Among those challenges are issues with the supply chain but already one company is discussing manufacturing components rather than importing them.

Another company which described its UK business as “flat” said they have launched into foreign markets and suggested that Wakefield district businesses should be focusing now on diversifying their markets to prepare for post-Brexit Britain.

Cllr Byford said that Wakefield Council remains consistent in its approach to helping to grow the local economy.

“We have several strategies for growing the local economy such as supporting the labour market by facilitating apprenticeships and upskilling workers to get into more specialised jobs making the district attractive to investors. Through our Local Plan there are land use allocations and we provide a range of advice to large, medium and small businesses among other things.”

Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Growth, Tom Stannard, who chaired the meeting said: “The unanimous view around the table was that Brexit still has many more months to go before it is done but that there are opportunities calling for a post-Brexit UK.

“It was a very productive and forward looking discussion about solutions that either could arise or could be created.

“While large businesses are poised to weather the final exit at the end of the year, medium-sized and smaller businesses are in need of expertise to help them break into international markets.

“We also took away ideas from the meeting on how a £2million fund available through the West Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership can be used to position small businesses to take advantage of, or even create, new business opportunities to help them survive the current economic uncertainties.”

This was the second Business Brexit Roundtable hosted by the Council and more are planned leading up to the transition date of 31 December 2020. Companies who wish to participate should contact the Wakefield First team at

Help for small businesses to assist their EU staff get settled status was also discussed. Many said they valued the skills and work ethics of their EU staff and did not want to lose them.

The business leaders attending were drawn predominantly from the manufacturing and logistics sectors. Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and Department for International Trade also attended.