Small businesses told to make flood plan

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Limited companies, sole traders and other small businesses have been encouraged to put together a plan to safeguard themselves against flooding.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has been warning people that more extreme weather could be on the way in 2015 and that firms need to have a plan to deal with this, make sure that damage costs are minimal and that they can stay open.

A survey of 1,199 FSB members showed that 59 per cent of small firms do not have a plan in place for extreme weather. This is in spite of the fact that 66 per cent have been affected by snow, drought or floods over the last three years.

What's more, 29 per cent of respondents said that they do not have insurance to cover loss of income or damage caused by flooding.

This is in spite of the fact that last year saw the wettest winter on record in the UK and 3,200 commercial properties were flooded during this time. On average, the costs to firms in areas that were affected by the flooding was £1,531.

The FSB says that firms need to protect themselves so that they are safeguarded against such disruption, enabling them to continue to operate and avoid financial problems.

Respondents were also asked about the kinds of problems that they faced due to extreme weather. Disruption to staff and customers was the biggest issue, with 46 per cent citing this, while disruption to suppliers, utilities and transport arrangements was the second biggest with 32 per cent stating this.

National policy chairman for the FSB Mike Cherry said: "Small businesses need to get better prepared for extreme weather. However, we know that despite wind, water or fire, many small businesses do manage to stay open and continue to serve their customers. When disasters hit we would encourage people to continue to support their local businesses, many of which stay open whatever the weather."

He reminded small businesses to check the Environment Agency website for advice for firms on putting together a plan for dealing with floods. On this site, there are examples of extreme weather plans and a comprehensive guide for putting one in place.

Mr Cherry said: "we want to make sure businesses are getting all the information, finance and support they need to deal with extreme weather."

The FSB is also concerned about the fact that small businesses are not going to be included in the Government's Flood Re agreement, which is intended to help businesses most at risk of flooding limit insurance costs.

Mr Cherry pointed out that this concern is particularly strong given that there are only three in ten small businesses with the right cover in place for facing extreme weather.

By Victoria McDonnell

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