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£3,000 each a week and counting - the mounting cost of floods on Somerset businesses

By WMNCBarnes  |  Posted: February 18, 2014

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Floods have cost Somerset businesses an average £17,352 each in lost trade over the past six weeks, according the county’s Chamber of Commerce, which says that financial aid pledged by government will only ‘scratch at the surface’ of the problem.

A ‘snapshot’ survey undertaken by the Chamber has revealed that many Somerset firms have lost around a quarter of their usual business, due to the flooding.

Around 40% of businesses who said they have been impacted by the floods have seen a reduction in customer numbers.

Almost two fifths of business owners said their own commute to work has been affected by the flooding, while 44% of them said that they had lost the equivalent of between 10 says and a fortnight in lost time, due to employees turning up late – or not turning up at all.

One in four Somerset businesses also said that they have been unable to attend meetings as a result of floods, resulting in a significant loss in potential deals, while power cuts have affected 14%and one in 10 has been without a telephone and/or broadband due to the adverse weather conditions.

Somerset Chamber Chief executive Rupert Cox warned: “If the rain continues and the water does not subside, this is only going to increase.

“The findings from our snapshot survey do not include the many businesses still without power or broadband connection, or without the time to complete a survey as they’re fighting to keep the water out of their homes and premises.”

The chamber asked 170 businesses in the county to take part in its study, with 71 able to estimate damage caused so far.

“Many say it is too early to gauge the impact on their businesses, as until the water subsides it is difficult to know the full extent of the damage caused,” said Mr Cox.

“While we welcome the Government’s pledge to provide funding to help flood-affected businesses get back on their feet, the reality is that the £10 million allocated for this scheme is only going to scratch the surface.

“We must do everything we can to make sure the required investment in infrastructure is made to protect homes and business in Somerset so that this situation is never allowed to happen again.”

The Devon and Cornwall Business Council has estimated that the floods and resulting rail line closures are costing the wider Westcountry economy around £20 million a day in lost business.

It based its sums upon figures collated in the wake of floods last year, which brought train services to as standstill for just a week at a total cost of around £170 million locally.

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