The Government’s Committee on Climate Change has backed FSB calls for a more resilient business community to tackle the risks posed by climate change to the UK economy.
The Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change has today published a key report which reaffirms the real and growing risk of climate change to small businesses, and warns the risk of flooding must be addressed urgently.
Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “This report recognises the great risk posed by flooding and extreme weather on small businesses. It also confirms the problems we have consistently identified with access to affordable small business flood insurance.
“Severe weather is expected to increase the severity and frequency of flooding, leaving vulnerable regions at real risk of greater damage and disruption. The economic fallout extends beyond those businesses who actually receive flood water through their doors. It disrupts supply chains, distribution channels and impacts whole communities.
“Small businesses need to be empowered to improve their own resilience. That should be supported by bringing flood insurance premiums down to an affordable level. Flood risks must also be tackled and defences improved so that businesses have the confidence to remain at the heart of their local communities.”
FSB research suggests up to 75,000 smaller businesses at risk of flooding could currently struggle to find affordable flood insurance.Small businesses are not covered by the new Flood Re agreement and so FSB is working closely with Government and industry to explore how best to increase resilience and reduce insurance costs for businesses in high-risk areas.
Only 25 per cent of microbusinesses have a resilience plan in place that specifically includes severe weather. Today’s report recognises Government has a role to play in supporting businesses to improve their resilience through policies, regulation and awareness raising measures.
The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report analyses risks and opportunities to the UK from climate change and will inform the UK’s second ever Climate Change Risk Assessment due out in early 2017. FSB will continue to work with Ministers, officials and the insurance industry to explore and agree solutions to small business resilience and the lack of available flood insurance.
As experts in business, FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in Government. Its aim is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk. You can follow us on twitter @fsb_policy.
New FSB report reveals huge opportunity to double the number of small business exporters
Potential for small firms to make greater contribution to exports market
Finding customers remains the biggest challenge to small firms wanting to export
Established export markets – including Europe and North America – remain dominant but emerging markets are making headway
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has today (Monday) published a comprehensive report exploring the way small businesses interact with the global export market. “Destination Export: The small business export landscape” highlights key characteristics and drivers of small firms that currently export and, crucially, the potential exporters of the future. The focus on potential exporters offers insights into what more could be done to move the dial on growing the number of small firms selling overseas.
The proportion of small businesses exporting, one in five, (21%) has remained static for many years. One of the key findings of this report is that the number of small businesses currently exporting is matched by those that would consider exporting (21%). This points to the huge potential to double the number of small business exporters. In order to tap into this potential, the Government, the private sector, the finance industry and business associations including FSB, must now focus on providing effective targeted and tailored support.
The most common challenge facing small firms in exporting is finding customers, followed by marketing their product to overseas customers. For those currently exporting the most common challenge remains foreign exchange rates. While for potential exporters, there is a pervasive knowledge gap to overcome – one in five small firms that would consider exporting do not know where to go for support. This report also found there are issues around confidence in trading overseas and an assumption by some small firms that exporting is not for them. Yet there are clear benefits with the average annual turnover of an exporter (£935,921) more than double that of a non-exporter (£390,028).
Martin McTague, FSB National Policy Director, said: “Small businesses that export are more likely to survive, grow and innovate. But in addition to more traditional barriers such as language and foreign exchange, businesses are having to deal with a rapidly changing export landscape and the advantages and challenges brought about by e-commerce. Any support must be designed with this in mind and should be able to cater to a wide range of export needs, both for those currently exporting and for those considering doing so.”
“The Government clearly understands the need to promote exporting given the decision in late 2015 to refocus UKTI’s role and make exports a priority across government departments. Small businesses are well placed to make a significant contribution to the Government target to increase the value of exports to £1 trillion and support 100,000 new exporters by 2020. But the fact remains, many small businesses aren’t aware of the support available or how to access it. This report provides some critical insight into the kind of support small firms need at different points along their export journey and provides key recommendations on how close the gap between demand and delivery.”
This exports report has been researched and written against the backdrop of campaigning around the EU referendum. Given the UK’s decision to leave the EU, ‘Destination Export’ could not be published at a more uncertain time. Maintaining a stable and secure trading environment for small businesses must now be the priority.
Martin McTague continued:“FSB has clearly and consistently called for clarity on what the UK’s exit from the EU means for business, with particular emphasis on access to the single market and the free movement of people and trade.The majority of FSB members export to the single market with provides access to 500 million potential consumers, more than 26 million businesses and is worth around £9 trillion.”
The EU is by far the dominant export destination for small businesses with 93 per cent of exporters selling to countries within that trading bloc. But our report does point to signs that newer entrants to the export market are attracted to a more diverse range of destinations, especially emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East. Those offering support must seize this opportunity boost this trend and diversify the export market further by helping to provide market knowledge and practical information on logistics, delivery and translation services.
Current Government-backed support, particularly UKTI services, have made some headway with exporters. Our survey showed that of those who accessed export support, over a third (37%) used support provided by Government. But this report recommends one key way for UKTI to help maximise the chances of exporters getting approached by customers overseas. It’s Exporting is Great website allows UK businesses to search for export opportunities but there is potential to create an online platform allowing businesses to show their wares to overseas markets and increase their visibility.
The report, ‘Destination Export: The small business export landscape’ will be officially launched on Monday 18 July 2016 at an evening reception in the prestigious Admiralty House at the Heart of Whitehall. Attendees will be hearing from Lord Price CVO, Minister of State for Trade and Investment.
The report is the result of more than three years of work involving hundreds of leading scientists and experts from the public and private sectors and civil society. The risk assessment has been peer reviewed by UK and international specialists.
Changes to the UK climate are likely to include periods of too much or too little water, increasing average and extreme temperatures, and sea level rise. The report concludes that the most urgent risks for the UK resulting from these changes are:
Flooding and coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure.
Risks to health, wellbeing and productivity from high temperatures
Risk of shortages in the public water supply, and water for agriculture, energy generation and industry, with impacts on freshwater ecology.
Risks to natural capital, including terrestrial, coastal, marine and freshwater ecosystems, soils and biodiversity.
Risks to domestic and international food production and trade.
Risks of new and emerging pests and diseases, and invasive non-native species, affecting people, plants and animals.
The opportunities for the UK from climate change include:
UK agriculture and forestry may be able to increase production with warmer weather and longer growing seasons, if constraints such as water availability and soil fertility are managed.
There may be economic opportunities for UK businesses from an increase in global demand for adaptation-related goods and services, such as engineering and insurance.
The impact of the recent vote to leave the European Union does not change the overall conclusions of the risk assessment. However, some individual risks may change if EU-derived policies and legislation are withdrawn and not replaced by equivalent or better UK measures. The Adaptation Sub-Committee will assess the implications of the EU referendum in its next statutory report to Parliament on the UK National Adaptation Programme, due to be published in June 2017.
Lord Krebs, Chairman of the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change,said: “The impacts of climate change are becoming ever clearer, both in the United Kingdom and around the world. We must take action now to prepare for the further, inevitable changes we can expect. Our independent assessment today, supported by the work of hundreds of scientists and other experts, identifies the most urgent climate change risks and opportunities which need to be addressed. Delaying or failing to take appropriate steps will increase the costs and risks for all UK nations arising from the changing climate.”
Notes to editors
The Climate Change Act requires the UK Government to compile every five years its assessment of the risks and opportunities arising for the UK from climate change, known as the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA). The ASC’s Evidence Report published today will inform the Government’s second Climate Change Risk Assessment due to be presented to Parliament in January 2017. The first CCRA was presented to Parliament by Government in 2012.
The Climate Change Act places a duty on the Adaptation Sub-Committee to provide independent advice six months in advance of the Government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment report to Parliament being due. The Evidence Report, consisting of eight individual chapters looking at key areas of risk and opportunity, constitutes the ASC’s advice on the Government’s second CCRA. Each chapter has been written by expert lead authors supported by co-authors with particular specialties. The individual chapters are the product of their expert authors. A Synthesis Report has also been produced by the ASC to highlight the key messages of the Evidence Report.
The Synthesis Report ‘UK Climate Change Risk Assessment: priorities for the next five years’, together with the chapters of the full Evidence Report, and associated materials is available here.