Flood risks highlighted for UK firms

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Warning businesses not to set up in flood-risk areas is not enough

The nation's businesses need to be given additional support when facing the serious and growing issue of flooding, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has argued.

Earlier this month, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Rory Stewart suggested: "We do not want to encourage businesses to locate themselves in flood-vulnerable zones if they have a high fixed structural asset cost."

Responding to this statement, vice chairman for the FSB Sandra Dexter commented: "A sixth of all UK properties are located on flood plains and the FSB estimates that nine per cent (75,000) of smaller businesses at risk of flooding have found it difficult to find flood insurance.

"Discouraging businesses from these areas could lead to flood blight - a situation where whole communities are damaged because the small business infrastructure that holds them together disappears as quickly as the flood waters recede."

She added that rather than telling the UK's smallest firms that flood-risk areas may not be suitable for them, the government should be doing more to support this group.

Indeed, the organisation believes a new framework dedicated to supporting smaller firms would help to not only promote small business growth across the country, but it would also provide long-term benefits to communities.

Small businesses with high fixed structural assets - such as farms and restaurants - provide a significant boost to local economies and therefore arguing they should not set up in flood-risk areas is not a solution.

The FSB will this week be attending a ministerial roundtable at Defra and will use the opportunity to lobby on behalf of the nation's small business operators for increased investment in flood defences and reassurance that investment in flood resilience remains a top government priority.

Ms Dexter concluded: "Flood risk is going to increase in future, with many more communities and businesses facing greater risk of damage or disruption. Firms need to adapt, but government must provide workable pathways to help them reduce this risk and protect against the worst of the financial damage."