MOST businesses have not produced Brexit risk assessments or made plans in case Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

Dorset’s top business spokesman has said it is “extremely difficult” to plan without clearer information, after several surveys showed businesses unprepared for a no-deal Brexit in particular.

A survey of 2,500 firms by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) – whose members include Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry – found 62 per cent had not completed a risk assessment, with less than six months to go until Brexit.

A fifth said they would cut investment if there was no deal, 20 per cent said they would move part or all of their business to the EU, and 18 per cent would cut recruitment. Those numbers would fall dramatically in the event of a “status quo transition”.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber, said of the BCC survey: “I find it unsurprising to read this statistic. It’s been a constantly moving landscape and in reality a period in which it’s been extremely difficult to prepare and plan.

“My view is the lack of clear information will be the driver behind this – and the sooner businesses have some clarity around the future, the better. The current climate makes it extremely difficult for businesses to make realistic plans – and this will have also had had a knock-on effect on forward investment and developments.”

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses found only 13 per cent of small businesses in the south west were planning for a no-deal Brexit, although half thought it would have a negative effect on their business.

A third survey, by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and ComRes, found 76 per cent of manufacturers in the south west said they were not prepared for a no-deal Brexit. Almost half said they had no plans to prepare for one.

The chances of a no-deal Brexit were thought to have increased after the core of Theresa May’s Chequers proposals was rejected at last month’s Salzurg summit. In recent days, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker has said a deal is more likely.

Bookmakers were quoting a 40 per cent chance of a no-deal Brexit at the start of this month.

Stephen Tulip, south west regional manager for EEF, said manufacturers “desperately require clarity”.

“It is absolutely crucial that an industry that accounts for 10 per cent of the UK’s economic output and almost half of the country’s exports, prepares for exit day and all its possible implications. But currently over 80 per cent have no plans to prepare for a scenario such as no-deal,” he said.

“The Chequers deal is a pragmatic and realistic solution which offers a practical way forward. It is now essential that the prime minister is given the backing to deliver on it.”

The Federation of Small Businesses found only 13 per cent thought a no-deal Brexit would be positive for their business.

Its chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “Looking at this research it is obvious that our small firms are not prepared or ready for a chaotic no deal Brexit and the impact that it will have on their businesses. If you sell your products to the EU, buy goods from the EU or if your business relies on staff from the EU, you now see this outcome as a clear and present threat to your business.”