Be prepared for the unexpected because disasters DO happen

Small businesses are being urged to ensure they are fully prepared for the effects of climate change, as new figures show that millions are unprepared to cope in the repercussions of storms, flooding or other disasters.

Small businesses are being urged to ensure they are fully prepared for the effects of climate change, as new figures show that millions are unprepared to cope in the repercussions of storms, flooding or other disasters.

The findings of the research, completed by Populus, also revealed that:

* Nearly half of businesses had no plans to deal with the impact of flooding, and

* A third of businesses had no plans to deal with the impact of a storm, while nearly a third only had "rough plans".

The calls follow reports from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which has predicted dramatic increases in sea levels and world temperatures.

New independent research, conducted by Populus, has revealed that millions of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK are failing to prepare for the effects of climate change and set in place a business continuity plan.

As a result, the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) has launched a campaign to encourage SMEs to get serious about business continuity, the practice of ensuring businesses are protected in the event of an emergency.

The campaign is being backed by politicians from all parties and supported by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Eric Galbraith, chief executive of the British Insurance Brokers' Association, said: "Our research reveals an incredibly worrying trend among the essential small business sector in the UK. Too many businesses are putting themselves and their employees' futures at risk by failing to put in place proper continuity plans should the unexpected happen.

"Every business needs to be properly prepared for a worst case scenario. Small businesses are vital to the UK economy and we simply cannot afford for them to be complacent. I urge every business to urgently speak to their broker to ensure they are properly covered."

David Croucher, home affairs chairman at the FSB, said: "Small businesses are particularly at risk from the impact of an unexpected event such as a flood or act of terrorism. It is not just the initial impact that does the damage, it is the period elapsed until the business gets back up and running again. A long period out of action can spell the end for many small businesses. As a result, the Federation of Small Businesses urges all firms to plan for the unexpected and to put in place proper continuity plans to protect their business and employees."

Director of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Bruce Mann recommends all organisations have in place robust, flexible business continuity management arrangements. He said: "From the Carlisle floods to the London bombings and the Buncefield explosion, recent incidents have shown clearly the vast range of impacts emergencies can have on organisations across all sectors, affecting profits and operations. This is bad for employees, shareholders, customers and communities.

"Good business continuity management will ensure that the impact of any emergency on business will be minimised, and should help business recover quickly."

Welcoming the campaign, Patrick Mercer MP, Shadow Security Minister, said: "This research shows us that too many businesses have no contingency plans for disasters. The SME sector is vital to the UK economy, and it is essential that it takes every step possible to ensure that it is protected against the worst case scenario.

"Events in recent years including the Carlisle floods, the Buncefield explosion and even the recent tornadoes in London have shown just how suddenly businesses can be hit.

"I urge all SMEs to get real about business continuity planning now, and ensure that they are in a position to survive should the worst happen."

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