FPB: Plan for bad weather

Small companies should start planning now for harsh winter weather to avoid being caught out by sudden cold snaps as seen during the previous two years, says the Forum of Private Business.

The lobbying group has made the warning with forecasters predicting an end to the unseasonably mild conditions across the UK towards the end of November.

The FPB says small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be particularly vulnerable to the impact of freak weather and should start planning ahead by checking their premises are winter-proof, insurance is up to date, and contingency plans are well-thought-out in case staff can’t get in to work.

The past two winters have seen Arctic weather cause havoc for British businesses due to the disruption, and, according to early long range forecasts, December is likely to start with severe frosts with the chance of snow for many areas closer to Christmas.

Forum head of campaigns Jane Bennett says, ‘Disruptive snowfall hampers deliveries, triggers heating and power failures, and can sometimes mean employees can’t get to work.

‘The past few winters have demonstrated just how susceptible the UK is to extreme weather, and the cost to business quickly runs into millions. When infrastructure grinds to a halt staff can’t get in to work, and that’s a body blow which hits small firms with fewer staff the hardest.’

According to data from YouGov’s Omnibus SME survey, 13 per cent of small businesses said they were ‘seriously’ impacted by last winter’s bad weather, and 37 per cent said they experienced weather-related problems of some sort.

YouGov figures also showed during winter 2010 that 34 per cent of workers experienced ‘significant problems’ getting to work, with 10 per cent unable to get in at all at some point. Eight per cent of workers were prevented from going in to work at least once because their children’s school had closed due to the bad weather.

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