The wettest winter on record, which caused floods across the south, has resulted in small firms losing more than three-quarters of a billion pounds, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Small businesses in flood-hit areas are estimated to have lost an average of £1,531 each, totalling £831m. Research shows that a third of firms suffered from reduced demand for goods and services during the extreme weather. Transport disruption and staff absences also contributed to the losses.
John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, commented, “In the past few weeks we have heard countless stories from our members who were left devastated by some of the worst flooding on record. Not only have they had to cope with a lack of demand for their services, many have had to close.”
Separate research found that the UK is one of the countries where flooding poses the greatest risk to economic output. It also found that the impacts could worsen with climate change increasing the risk to businesses in flood prone areas.
The organisation also urged the government to look at insurance in regards to small businesses. The Flood Re scheme would exclude small businesses, properties built after 2009 and wealthier homeowners.
Allan added, “We also know small businesses are worried they will find it increasingly difficult and considerably more expensive to insure their businesses. Certainly the evidence we have from our members points to small businesses’ exclusion from the Flood Re scheme being unhelpful.
“We want the government and the insurance industry to look again at the support they have in place for small businesses in flood hit areas and see whether there is more help they can provide to ensure they have access to adequate and affordable insurance.”
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has also urged action to repair damage caused by floods. The National Cycle Network (NCN) has been badly affected by the weather and the charity want to raise over £120,000 from its appeal.
Huw Davies, director of the Sustrans National Cycle Network, commented, “The Sustrans network has taken a bit of a beating over the last few months. Staff of volunteers have been working tirelessly to clear debris and repair minor damage, however the problems are extensive and some sections of the NCN will be costly to fix.”