Small firms' staff badly hit by snow chaos

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The Independent Online

One in seven people employed by smaller firms could not get to work because of the heavy snow and travel chaos at the start of the year, new research revealed today.

Transport problems and school closures were blamed by many workers for having to stay at home, while firms also lost business because of the disruption.

A survey of 1,600 companies by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that on average, one in seven members of staff was unable to get to work for at least one day because of snow-bound roads and closed roads.

One in 10 firms had to close completely because of the bad weather, while a third saw a dip in demand for goods and services.

The federation said the country should not "grind to a halt" because of poor weather conditions and called for a conference bringing together councils, emergency services, businesses and the Government to find ways of preventing disruption.

John Wright, chairman of the FSB, said: "Small businesses were particularly hard-hit during the heavy snowfall earlier this year.

"Staff were unable to make it into work because of snow-bound roads and closed schools which meant that parents had to stay at home to look after their children.

"Small firms have shown that they are resilient and resourceful by putting plans in place and offering flexible working hours and remote working, but we need to be better prepared with more salt for roads to prevent staff from missing days of work and bringing the country to a standstill.

"The FSB believes that local authorities have not learnt from last year's bad weather quickly enough, and we are calling for a national civil contingencies conference, bringing together all the relevant parties, to prevent the UK from coming to a complete standstill and find ways to keep Britain moving."