Small Businesses: Prepare Now For Harsh Winter
Small firms should plan now to avoid being caught out by severe weather conditions this winter ― that’s the message from the Forum of Private Business (FPB) as forecasters predict temperatures will plummet at the end of November.
The FPB’s warning comes as forecasters envisage an end to November’s mild weather and the dropping of temperatures across the country towards the end of the month. According to the Weather Outlook, November is likely to see widespread frost in parts of the UK, with the chance of sleet or snow in the north.
“The past few winters have demonstrated just how susceptible the UK is to extreme weather and the cost to business can quickly run into millions,”
said FPB head of campaigns Jane Bennett, adding that small firms were often hit the hardest by unexpected disruption.
“When infrastructure grinds to a halt staff can’t get into work, and that’s a body blow which hits small firms with fewer staff,” she said.
The FPB advised business owners to check that premises were ‘winter-proof’ by carrying out simple repairs and maintenance to heating and equipment, as well as ensuring that insurance policies were up to date. Firms also needed to prepare back-up plans in case staff couldn’t make it or deliveries were delayed, it said.
“It’s worth remembering prevention is also better than cure ― something as simple as making sure water pipes are lagged could save a business thousands in lost revenue if it has to close because of flooding. Businesses need to think about contingency plans now to ensure they aren’t put out of action,”
However, the Met Office played down the risk of an extreme winter this year, saying “there was no need for alarm” and that long-term forecasting was not necessarily reliable.
“This does not mean that harsh winter conditions are not possible, just that they cannot be identified at the moment,”
said the Met Office’s chief executive John Hirst.
Last December was the coldest in the UK in 100 years, with temperatures averaging -1˚C. The freezing weather and resulting lost trade cost the economy in the region of £1.2 billion, according to insurance firm RSA.
Around 13 per cent of small businesses said they were seriously impacted by last winter’s bad weather, a YouGov SME Omnibus survey found, while 37 per cent said they experienced weather-related problems of some sort.