FSB urges increased cross-Channel response

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Issues at Calais call for a stronger EU response

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has reiterated its commitment to pushing for increased government support for those communities badly affected by the disruption of cross-Channel services, as well as the need for a lasting solution to the Calais crisis.

Research published by the FSB has revealed a total of 11 per cent of the organisation's members have suffered some form of disruption as a result of the difficulties being faced in the transport of goods due to delays in cross-Channel services.

However, in the south-east of England, the proportion of FSB members that have been affected by the disruption rises to more than one-fifth (21 per cent).

Overall, 45 per cent of businesses that stated they have been affected by the disruption have seen delays in the import of goods or supplies, meaning their own services have had to be put on hold.

FSB policy director Mike Cherry stated: "Small businesses are being held to ransom as the delays caused by Operation Stack are having a damaging impact and resulting in a significant loss of trade and income.

"Many small firms not only in the south-east, but increasingly the rest of the country, are spending valuable time and money trying to find viable alternatives to honour commitments to their customers, both at home and in continental Europe."

He added that it is therefore essential that the port of Calais is returned to normal operating conditions as swiftly as possible, as failure to do so is having a far-reaching impact on supply chains both in the UK and France.

The FSB is now calling upon the European Commission to work with both the French and British governments to help to protect the livelihoods of UK and EU small businesses.

A lack of free movement of goods is counter to the ethos of an open and free Europe, with many businesses bearing the brunt of the unrest that has seen thousands of migrants causing disruption at the French port in recent months.

The FSB last week wrote an open letter to the prime minister David Cameron calling for an end to the disruption being caused by Operation Stack on the M20 and surrounding areas in Kent.

It now remains to be seen as to whether or not the plight of small businesses across the region and the country as a whole will prompt further concerted efforts by the British government to end this crisis sooner rather than later. What is certain, is the fact that small businesses across the UK are now facing economic hardship due to circumstances beyond their control.