Has Storm Ciara blown UK businesses of terminally off course?
Winds reached up to 93 mph as a month and a half’s worth of rainfall was delivered in a day.
Transport was disrupted all over the country with flights and ferry sailings being cancelled and most sports fixtures being postponed. Manchester City had their home game against West Ham called off for fears over spectators’ safety while poor Wisbech Town have lost their stand, which was demolished by the high winds.
The Humber Bridge was fully closed for only the second time ever since it opened in 1981 and trains were halted all over the country as branches, trees and in one case a trampoline blocked lines.
Flood defences were overwhelmed in several towns and cities as many burst their banks due to the excess water with villages seriously affected by the winter floods of 2015 already seeing flood water as deep as it was then in places like Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.
Thousands of homes were without power for hours and some in Cumbria saw their water supplies disrupted due to damage to water pipes. Several roads and properties have seen sinkholes open up causing even more damage.
Several schools remained closed this week as the damage is surveyed, while businesses will look at their own situations.
With transport continuing to be disrupted, many staff would be unable to get to work, urgent deliveries and supplies will be stuck or the premises themselves may be flooded or damaged and unable to be opened and business conducted.
Even if damage is covered by insurance, there will still be expensive clean up operations to be conducted immediately and a long and anxious wait for the insurance payments to be agreed and arrive – during which time a company still has to pay its own bills and wages and look to continue normal operations as best it can.
Many businesses in affected areas will be facing heartbreaking decisions this week.
Building a company and making a profit is hard in the most benign circumstances but rebuilding after a setback or natural disaster is even harder.
There are various official channels to seek aid and advice after a disaster affects your business or staff.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says most home buildings, contents and commercial business policies cover storm damage.
Commercial policies will cover damage to premises and the stock. Business interruption cover, which may be included or purchased separately as part of an insurance agreement, will cover additional trading costs, such as hiring temporary alternative trading premises if necessary, the ABI says.
Comprehensive motor insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing business vehicles damaged by storms.
There is also an issue of staff safety as businesses try to continue to operate as normally as possible under the circumstances.
Susan Clews, chief executive of ACAS says “workers may be concerned about travelling into work over the next few days and some employers will have concerns about staff absences impacting their productivity and performance.”
Employees should always contact work as early as possible if there are problems safely getting to work while employers should try to offer flexible hours, shift swaps of the opportunity to work from home if possible.
There’s no automatic right to be paid if staff are unable to get to work but unpaid time off should be granted if, as an example, the children’s school is closed and they have to look after them. If staff are available for work but the workplace has been closed then they are entitled to normal pay.
Many companies will be looking at closure as an insurmountable obstacle but it can also be an opportunity for a clean break if they decide that they’ve taken their business as far as they can and want to do something else with their lives.
There are several ways to close a limited company if it’s the right call for a business owner or they may want to redouble their efforts to renew and relaunch the company from a fresh platform.
Our expert advisors are always on hand for a free initial consultation to discuss the company’s situation and help formulate a plan to revive a business or
They’ll then work with you to arrange an efficient plan on a reasonable timescale that will give you peace of mind on how to proceed leaving you to literally get back to business.