Increasing numbers of Cumbrian businesses are said to be looking to hedge their currency risk ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce said there is “unprecedented” interest in its Foreign Exchange service, which it provides in partnership with Moneycorp.

The service uses forward contracts or options to allow businesses to lock into today’s exchange rate, protecting them if the pound declines in value.

Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’ve received a surge of enquiries about our foreign exchange service in recent weeks.

“Some businesses were caught out when the pound fell sharply after the EU referendum, which meant they had to pay substantially more for imported goods and raw materials.

“The pound has fallen again in recent weeks but it could fall much further in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“We’re hearing from businesses keen to protect themselves from further Sterling weakness by hedging the risk.”

The pound was worth $1.43 before the referendum in June 2016 but is trading at $1.21 now.

Over the same period, its value against the Euro has fallen from €1.30 to €1.08.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Government is committed to leaving the EU on October 31, with or without a Brexit deal.

This week Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said that a no-deal Brexit is becoming “more likely by the day”.

He made the comments when he visited Cumbria on Wednesday to address a joint Chamber of Commerce and Bank of England event in Carlisle.

He said: “Even if businesses aren’t directly exposed to trade with the EU, they need to take stock as to where the risks are to their business and to their supply chain.”

The Chamber’s Foreign Exchange Service offers businesses a free assessment of their foreign exchange requirements, low transfer fees on international payments and, typically, exchange rates four per cent better than those offered by the banks.