BREXIT has become the "most frequently mentioned barrier to growth" among local businesses, according to a report being discussed next week.

With just a few weeks left until the October 31 Brexit date set by the Government, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Board will discuss the latest views of local businesses at its last meeting before the UK is due to leave the EU.

Members will be told that a survey of 2,000 local businesses carried out this year found that there was increasing pessimism about Brexit compared to a few years ago.

A report to the board says: "Brexit has become the most frequently mentioned barrier to growth – mentioned by 17 per cent of businesses in 2019, compared to 5 per cent in 2017."

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It adds: "There is strong evidence to say that the economy is already showing signs of the implications of Brexit, but in attempting to look forward it is accepted by most commentators that the impact will be significantly different depending on whether there is a negotiated deal and transition period or a non-negotiated exit.

"In the current economic climate (and depending on the outcome of Brexit) it is more challenging to achieve the further investment across the city region that is required to drive productivity."

The panel will also hear that a £2m scheme has been set up by the Local Enterprise Partnership to support local businesses over the Brexit transition.

The fund will help provide "bespoke professional advice and guidance on issues directly related to Brexit, such as accreditations, regulatory changes, contractual matters, financial and risk planning and workforce planning, and a possible finance product under development."

The LEP's Brexit plan also includes: "Identifying a small group of staff who could be mobilised quickly in the event that we need a surge of resource to support on the impact of Brexit on businesses and individuals."

The panel meets at NEXUS at the University of Leeds at noon next Wednesday.