Small businesses failing to plan for bad weather

News   •   Jan 23, 2017 12:40 GMT

Far too many of the United Kingdom’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are ill-prepared for the effects of bad weather and the disruption it could bring. Two-thirds (66%) of SMEs reported lost revenue, and almost a third (31%) have suffered weather-related property damage as a result of bad weather during the last five years, yet nearly half (44%) have no business continuity plan in place to ensure they can continue operating, while over two-thirds (69%) do not have any insurance cover to protect them.

The research conducted by Towergate found that SMEs were hit hardest by employees being delayed or prevented from reaching work (24%). Reduced demand for goods and services (16%) and disruption to their supply chain (15%) were also common problems caused by bad weather. Furthermore, on average, SME’s estimated that £523,934 of property and related assets could be at risk of damage caused by bad weather.

Overall, SMEs reported an average of 14.7 hours lost a year due to the weather, however some sectors lost much more. Engineering and building (20.8 hours), manufacturing and utilities (19.6 hours), and unsurprisingly transport (19.7 hours) lose around half a week each year due to bad weather.

Adverse weather has consistently appeared in the top ten list of threats featured in the Business Continuity Institute's Horizon Scan Report. The latest version put it in eighth place with more than half (55%) of respondents to a global survey expressing concern about the possibility of a disruption caused by adverse weather.

Commenting on the findings, Joe Thelwell from Towergate, said: “The UK’s economy depends on small and medium sized businesses. But far too many firms have left themselves exposed to the unpredictable and at times damaging British weather. The majority of SMEs do not have appropriate contingency plans or insurance to protect them against lost business and unexpected bills resulting from the havoc our weather can wreak.

With millions of people’s livelihoods depending on SMEs, it is crucial that these businesses take steps to better prepare for bad weather so they can get up and running as soon as possible. Practically, that could include backing-up computer systems and records, identifying contingency premises or taking out specific policies.