Brexit uncertainty stalls £27bn of IT projects

Written by Hannah McGrath

Businesses in the UK have hit the pause button on more than £27 billion worth of IT, digital and technology projects as they wait on the outcome of Brexit, according to new research.

A survey of 504 business leaders conducted by polling firm Opinium for internet service provider Beaming found that almost a third (31 per cent) of companies in the UK - equivalent to 1.7 million businesses nationwide - have put IT initiatives schedule for 2019 on hold due to Brexit uncertainty.

The survey found that just over half (53 per cent) of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK and more than two thirds (77 per cent) of larger organisations have put at least one IT project on hold pending the outcome.

Almost a third (29 per cent) of micro businesses - those with 1-9 members of staff - have also decided to hold off on further investment in IT initiatives. The average value of IT project currently frozen due to Brexit across all businesses is £15,561.

Meanwhile the total value of projects on hold was found to be £27.02 billion, with small businesses pressing pause on £14.4 billion of projects, medium-sized businesses £4.85 billion and large businesses £2.66 billion.

Technology companies were the most likely to have paused a significant number of projects due to Brexit, with 81 per cent saying they had put investments on hold, followed by financial services (68 per cent), education (64 per cent), construction (60 per cent) and manufacturing (57 per cent).

The survey results come after the Treasury Select Committee launched an inquiry last week into the future of the UK’s financial services once the UK has left the EU.

The committee will examine what the government’s financial services priorities should be when it negotiates the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and third countries, conditional on the government securing parliamentary approval for the prime minister’s EU withdrawal agreement.

The deal is set to be subject to a number of amendments this week from MPs as both sides of the Brexit debate attempt to seize control over the process.

Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, said: “Regardless of the rights and wrongs of Brexit, it has become clear that the political stalemate in Westminster is creating uncertainty and affecting investment.

“Whatever happens, businesses need to communicate and ensure systems are resilient, and we are seeing spending to improve essentials such as connectivity and cyber security.”