Government has not done enough to help flood-damaged firms

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has criticised the Government for not doing enough to help the 9,000 businesses damaged in last summer’s floods.

Despite the Government’s provision of an £11 million fund to help businesses recover from the flooding, the FSB has expressed concern that small firms did not receive enough financial support or guidance to help them get back on their feet.

“Although the £11 million is of course welcome, we felt that it was not enough, so we stepped in to offer assistance to flood–hit businesses,” said FSB spokesman Simon Briault. “We set up a fund to offer our members interest–free loans of up to £5,000 to help get back on their feet”

“Government agencies also need to do better when it comes to getting information out to flood–hit businesses,” he added. “Only around four per cent of SMEs affected by the flooding used government–funded agencies to get information on flood recovery.”

Responding to the criticism, flood recovery minister John Healey, said: “While a huge amount has been done, there is still more to do. The Government is in this for the long haul, and remains committed to providing support for as long as it is needed.”

“Last year we had the wettest May to July since records began in 1766, leading to the worst floods for a generation, and one of the largest recovery efforts since the Second World War,” he added. “Over the past 12 months, we have made up to £88 million available to flood-hit communities — and there is another £31 million to come through the new Restoration Fund.”

On the back of a review published this week by Sir Michael Pitt, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced that an action plan to improve flood protection will be published in the autumn.

The Environment Secretary said £34.5 million has been allocated to implement the recommendations of the Pitt Review. This will include £5 million to be spent on surface water management, £1 million on making reservoirs safer and £250,000 on a nationwide flood response exercise.

The FSB urged the Government to include investment in better flood defences in order to minimise damage from future flooding. “It is essential to safeguard homes and businesses,” said Briault.

For information on protecting your business against flooding, visit the Health, safety and premises section of the Business Link website

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