FSB News Release
PR 2010 02
Issue date: Wednesday 13 January 2010
FSB calls for major conference to better prepare the country for snow
Small businesses play a key role in tackling adverse weather
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling the Government to hold a national conference to review its contingency planning after weeks of snow and icy weather brought the UK to a standstill.
Following weeks of bad weather which is estimated to have cost the UK economy at least £600m a day, with staff in some areas of the country unable to make it into work, the FSB wants to see discussion between local authorities, transport and salt mining companies, schools and the business community, among others, to find solutions to deal with adverse weather.
In a new policy paper on business continuity, entitled Let's Keep Britain Moving, the FSB states that many small businesses were forced to close, lost business, or saw supplies dwindle because of the snow, with many roads left completely impassable. School closures also meant many parents had to stay at home to look after children, thereby missing further days at work.
The FSB argues the authorities did not learn from the lessons of last February's snowfall quickly enough and could have prepared better for the recent spate of bad weather.
The FSB is calling for more support for the country's 4.8m small businesses, which are among the hardest-hit by increasingly erratic weather conditions and other emergencies, because they find it harder to put contingency plans in place and are more vulnerable to road closures and transport disruption in remote rural areas.
The FSB recommends:
- The Government puts in place an emergency grant scheme for small firms severely affected by extreme weather – following the model of the FSB's own ‘Flood Fund' set up during recent flooding in Cumbria
- The Government produces mandatory guidance for local authorities, including salt level recommendations; and further increases its own private salt levels to supplement shortfalls where necessary
- The Government ensures the UK energy sector is better able to store gas for longer than the current maximum
- The Department for Children, Schools and Families, National Association of Head Teachers and Association of the Directors of Children's Services work together to produce better guidance and criteria on closing schools, to prevent closures where possible.
John Wright, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
"Small businesses have been particularly hard-hit during the recent bad weather, with staff unable to make it to work because of school closures and snow-bound roads. We need to be better prepared with more salt stocks for roads and better guidance for head teachers on when to close schools, to prevent staff from missing days of work and bringing the country – and the economy – to a standstill.
"Small businesses have shown how resilient and resourceful they are by trying to put in place plans for flexible working and by allowing staff to work from home. It is the small businesses that come to the aid of local communities in difficult times.
"However, following recent events, it is time we had a national civil contingencies conference, bringing together all relevant parties, and including the business perspective, on emergencies such as these. It is time the economy stopped coming to a halt during these emergencies, and we all pulled together to find ways to Keep Britain Moving."
Notes to Editors
1. The FSB is the UK's leading business organisation with over 213,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at http://www.fsb.org.uk
2. For a copy of the policy paper, Business Continuity – Let's Keep Britain Moving, visit www.fsb.org.uk
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