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09 June 2016

Flooding report reveals troubling lack of action

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is disappointed to learn that many communities at risk of flooding are still not getting the protection they need, as highlighted in today’s Environmental Audit Committee report ‘Flooding: Cooperation across Government’.

FSB is particularly concerned that local authorities, often the frontline for flood response when small businesses are affected, are not yet receiving the support they need to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of flooding. FSB’s own research shows that two thirds of small businesses have been negatively affected by severe weather in the previous three years. Therefore, it’s worrying that this report has found the Government does not seem to be supporting local authorities to develop local flood plans and flood prevention strategies.

FSB joined the Ministerial Flood Roundtable, and has worked hard with Ministers, officials and the insurance industry to explore and agree solutions to small business resilience and the lack of available flood insurance. Recommendations as a result of this work must be brought forward this summer so that more progress can be made before the next round of flooding hits these areas.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “Many small businesses in parts of northern England, Scotland and Wales are still recovering from the devastating floods last Christmas. The damage that occurred in places like Cumbria and Leeds is a reminder of the critical role that flood defences play, and highlights the problems when they don’t operate properly. Although 16,000 properties in England were flooded, it’s important to recognise that 20,000 properties were protected by existing flood defences.

“Ministers need to put a proper, multi-agency strategy in place to manage the risks of flooding across the UK. Long term plans must ensure that homes and businesses are protected through a combination of flood defence schemes and strategic river management. We want to see Ministers publish their Flooding Strategy to set out how Government, local authorities and business can work together to make small businesses more flood resilient.”

A sixth of all UK properties are located on flood plains and FSB estimates that nine per cent of smaller businesses at risk of flooding have found it difficult to find flood insurance.

Mike Cherry added: “Small businesses also need to be empowered to improve their own resilience. Many of those in high risk areas cannot get flood insurance, are not covered by the new Flood Re scheme and are unable to reduce their risk. Smaller businesses are vital to local communities, providing valuable services and contributing to employment and the local economy. Forcing them out of these communities, through a lack of resilience support and investment, will only accelerate flood blight and devastate local economies.”