20 November 2015

Severe weather could wipe out profits for many of the UK's smaller companies, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned.

Although unseasonably warm in many places, November has already seen flooding across parts of the North of England and Wales, as well as damage caused by high winds, as Abigail and Barney (the first of the UK's "named" storms) made their way across swathes of the country.

They will, no doubt, be followed in coming weeks by Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry, Imogen and the others on the Met Office list and, the FSB has highlighted, each one is a potential source of problems for the UK's small businesses.

National Chairman John Allan said: "In a recent FSB survey, it was found that two thirds of small businesses have been negatively affected by severe weather in the last three years. The financial cost of these severe weather events over this period was, on average, just under £7000 for each affected business."

The FSB is urging small businesses to clarify their risk of flooding, design a resilience plan and, where available, sign up to the Flood Warnings Direct service.

Mr Allan pointed out that it is not necessarily damage to property that hits smaller companies but disruption affecting their staff and customers. Employers should explore the potential benefits of flexible working for staff unable to travel due to extreme weather, he continued.

As a third of those affected had trouble with infrastructure and transport, the FSB has suggested that firms consider addressing these issues by stockpiling, having resilient storage locations, and spreading delivery and supply risks through multiple suppliers.