Severe weather, flooding and impact on members
As we struggle through one of the wettest winters in recent memory, our thoughts are with those Chamber members locally who experienced flood-related difficulties after the 5th December high tides and with all businesses across the UK currently whose trading and custom has been affected by the most recent bad weather.
The Chamber and our London colleagues at British Chambers of Commerce have been transmitting our and other Chamber concerns and proposals for action both to Government departments and the Environment Agency.
In the meantime, I wanted to write to ask for any additional feedback on the following:
LOCAL IMPACT ACROSS THE HUMBER
Please keep us apprised if you are still suffering any flooding and weather impact from the tidal surge on 5th December or more recently. We will be adding a question to the next Quarterly Economic Survey topical poll which goes out on February 24, to collect data on direct and indirect impact.
FEEDBACK ON GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
We are also facilitating Chamber members’ access to sources of support put in place by the Government – and also to highlight where this falls short. Of particular importance will be:
- The new £10-million Business Support Scheme, set up to provide hardship funding for SMEs in areas affected by floods (both those flooded and those who have suffered significant loss of trade).
- The new Government helpline, 0300 456 3565, set up to help businesses affected by floods. This should be able to advise on forbearance, including HMRC time to pay (VAT, PAYE, Corporation Tax); business rates reliefs; and Companies House (filing of accounts).
RESPONSIVENESS OF INSURERS TO BUSINESS NEEDS
A big concern as we know from our previous flooding experience is the coming response from the insurance industry. While the Association of British Insurers has published a set of principles for affected customers, we remain vigilant on both the immediate and long-term response from the insurance industry. Please flag any concerns or difficulties to David Hooper, our External Affairs Manager, who will liaise with BCC in London to try to ensure businesses are treated fairly.
We are also attaching a one-page factsheet with some advice and assistance that we would ask you to consider or to sign-post to any affected local businesses you know.
Dr Ian Kelly
Advice for Businesses Impacted by Recent Flooding from the British Chambers of Commerce
The following assistance has been made available for businesses impacted by the recent flooding:
- A new Business Support Scheme worth up to £10million to provide hardship funding for SME businesses in areas affected by the floods. The support is available to businesses that have been flooded, and businesses that are in affected areas and have suffered significant loss of trade. Eligible businesses will be able to claim for funding for things like immediate clean-up costs, materials, and exceptional costs to help them continue trading. The new scheme will be funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills but administered and delivered by local authorities.
- Repair and renew grant for all affected homeowners and businesses. The £5,000 grant will provide financial support for households and businesses to pay for repairs which improve a property’s ability to withstand future flooding.
- Extra time for businesses to file accounts without any penalties. If any affected company is unable to file accounts or other documents on time as a direct result of the floods, Companies House will agree an extension and not collect the penalties which apply for late filings.
- Business rate relief. All affected businesses will get 100% business rate relief for three months. It’s vital for companies to call HMRC’s hotline to set up these arrangements. The HMRC helpline is 0800 904 7900
- Increased investment in transport resilience. The government has given the go ahead for a £31million scheme to deliver 10 rail resilience projects, and a further £30million for local authorities in England affected by the severe weather for road maintenance, including pothole repairs.
- Business assistance. Alongside these government actions, a number of big businesses are offering assistance to small firms affected by the floods:
- Regus, the global workspace provider with 220 business centres across the UK, is offering free workspace to workers affected by the floods.
- Citrix has pledged to support small businesses affected by the floods by letting them use GoToMeeting free on a trial basis for up to three months.
- A total commitment in excess of £750million from the major banks to provide financial support to business and individual customers affected by the floods.
A Government Business Support Helpline will offer a free one hour call with a dedicated Business Support Adviser to help businesses get back on their feet. The helpline number is 0300 456 3565
The Environment Agency flood warning and information service can be contacted on 0345 988 1188
For transport information you can contact the Highways Agency on 0300 123 5000 and Network Rail on 08457 48 49 50