To Stockpile or not to Stockpile

My dentist’s surgery has stockpiled toilet paper against the risk of a no-deal Brexit – most of our toilet paper is imported and shortages would be expected. The surgery has a customer toilet and so they want to maintain their service to their customers. I hope they are doing something similar with anaesthetic.

48% Preppers is a Facebook group whose motto is “beans and bog roll”. It is a place for sharing advice about what to stockpile. Some of that advice is from people’s experience of hurricanes and war-torn regions. Recipes are recommended such as pasta puttanesca which can be made just from packets, cans and jars – the ingredients are pasta, olives, capers, canned tomatoes, olive oil, and anchovies.

Risks are uncertain future events or conditions – they may or they may not happen. So what is the risk of a no-deal Brexit? How likely is it, and how may it affect you, your family, or your organisation?

A no-deal Brexit was declared illegal two weeks ago. However, it is hard to believe that the likelihood is now zero. There are potential ways around the Benn Act that made it illegal (detailed in the Financial Times, 18 September). Also, the government’s Get Ready for Brexit site says that the UK is leaving the EU on October 31st 2019 (this suggests deal or no deal); and last week it was revealed that the government has been stockpiling water treatment chemicals which all come from the EU, and which have a short shelf life (how short?). So if the water is untreated, will it still be supplied? or will it be shut off? Should you stockpile bottled water, or water purification tablets, or just boil it? (assuming that both water and the electricity are not shut off – apparently items necessary to keep nuclear power stations running are also being stockpiled now).

Individuals and organisations have to take a view on the risk. What can you live with or without? And what stocks are you prepared to be lumbered with if it doesn’t happen?

As with all risk assessments, the crucial thing you need is information….

Data Sources: The Economist; Facebook; The Financial Times

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