Revealed: Calderdale businesses have lost £47m so far since the floods

Boxing day flood in Hebden Bridge. Albert Street and New Road under water.
Boxing day flood in Hebden Bridge. Albert Street and New Road under water.
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New research by Calderdale Council, the University of Leeds and social enterprise Upper Calder Valley Renaissance has revealed businesses in Calderdale have lost £47 million so far as a result of the Boxing Day floods.

The evidence is being used to inform the work of the Calderdale Floods Commission, to plan a way forward for businesses as they continue to recover from the floods.

Mark Thompson, Calderdale Council’s Acting Director of Economy and Environment, said: “The report confirms the enormity of the damage and the need for further financial support – the total economic impact to the Calderdale and Kirklees regional economy is around £170 million.

“However, it also highlights that yet again, in the face of the worst floods for a generation, Calderdale businesses have come together to help each other and are largely starting to bounce back.”

Over 1,600 businesses were affected by the deluge. The total amount of losses reported by the surveyed businesses is about £47 million – that’s around 12% of their annual turnover on average.

A total of 45% of flooded premises suffered structural damage, 75% lost stock and 46% lost office equipment – almost double the losses faced after the floods in summer 2012. Employees have been laid off and more than 100 jobs are at risk in the next three months.

Since Boxing Day 2015, the team has processed over 800 flood recovery grant applications. Business advisors have been based in the various flood-affected areas to provide one-to-one advice and information, and build an in-depth knowledge on the effects of flooding.

Mr Thompson added: “The scale of damage highlighted in the report reaffirms the need for more financial support to help the business community. The Council and other organisations continue to do lots to help, and we’re really pleased with the funding awards we’ve received so far. We continue to press the Government for further support.”

Hundreds of businesses are now uninsurable or very high premiums make insurance unaffordable.

Calderdale Council’s Business and Skills team continues to work very closely with flood-affected businesses.

Stephen Curry from the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Business Flood Recovery Team said: “The business recovery process is clearly going to be a long haul in the Upper Calder Valley and this comprehensive survey is vitally important to help plan how best to support our business community and in seeking inward investment.”

Dr Paola Sakai, a Research Fellow in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, researches the effects of climate change on small and medium-sized enterprises.

“We found that firms with more than 20 employees experienced the highest losses, but for businesses with less than four employees the losses were twice as high – relative to their income,” she said. “Our research shows that in the wake of a more intense flood event, such as that experienced in the Calder Valley late last year, direct losses were twice as high and businesses take longer to recover.”

The business survey and resulting report are helping the Council to understand the cost of the damage, to feed into the Floods Commission and to supplement the information about the effects of the floods provided to the Government.

Despite the extensive impacts of the flooding, the strength and resilience of Calderdale businesses continues to shine through.

By the end of March 2016, around 83% of flood-affected businesses were back in operation across Calderdale, and three out of five businesses have recovered 50% of their normal sales since Boxing Day. Nearly 12% of surveyed firms said that their premises were improved or renovated or they are better protected now. A number of businesses have created networks that could help them to face future weather impacts.