Brokers back business continuity

New initative pushes value of BCM to SME firms

Research commissioned by the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) has revealed that millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK are failing to protect themselves and their employees against the threat of emergencies such as fire, flood or acts of terrorism.

BIBA has launched a campaign to encourage SMEs to address business continuity issues. Government figures suggest nearly 20% of businesses suffer a major disruption every year.

Small enterprises in particular suffer severe financial loss if closures prevent or restrict trading over a period of weeks or even months. BIBAs;' Populus research shows that high numbers of SMEs are not prepared to deal with sudden crises that jeopardise their business. BIBA argues that, with approximately 4.3 million SMEs in the UK employing around 12 million people, this sector is vital to the UK economy. It says effective planning to deal with unexpected events makes good business sense, ensuring that a business is protected and can continue its essential operations in the aftermath of an emergency.

Commenting on the campaign and the new research, Eric Galbraith, Chief Executive of the British Insurance Brokers' Association, said: “Our research reveals an incredibly worrying trend among the essential small business sector in the UK. Too many businesses are putting themselves and their employees futures at risk by failing put in place proper continuity plans should the unexpected happen. Every business needs to be properly prepared for a worst-case scenario. Small businesses are vital to the UK economy and we simply cannot afford for them to be complacent. I urge every business to speak urgently to their broker to ensure they are properly covered."

Mike Penning MP, Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead, who has been supporting constituents affected by the Buncefield oil depot fire in December 2005, has been a leading campaigner on the issue. This week he tabled an Early Day Motion supporting the campaign in Parliament. He commented: “I strongly urge every business to double-check that they have an adequate business continuity plan in place. There is a real threat that your business, and your employees jobs will be lost if you do not prepare for the unexpected. Buncefield was a prime example of something that no one expected, causing heartache to thousands. I do not want to see anyone experience the lows that my constituents did in 2005 and urge all businesses to get serious about business continuity."

David Croucher, Home Affairs Chairman at the Federation of Small Business said: “Small businesses are particularly at risk from the impact of an unexpected event such as a flood or act of terrorism. It is not just the initial impact that does the damage, it is the period elapsed until the business gets back up and running again. A long period out of action can spell the end for many small businesses."

As a result, the Federation of Small Businesses urges all firms to plan for the unexpected and to put in place proper continuity plans to protect their business and employees.  

Bruce Mann, Director of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, argues that all organisations should have in place robust, flexible business continuity management arrangements: "From the Carlisle floods to the London bombings and the Buncefield explosion, recent incidents have shown clearly the vast range of impacts emergencies can have on organisations across all sectors, affecting profits and operations. This is bad for employees, shareholders, customers and communities. Good BCM will ensure that the impact of any emergency on business will be minimised, and should help business recover quickly."

Patrick Mercer MP, Shadow Security Minister, said:  “This research shows us that too many businesses have no contingency plans for disasters. The SME sector is vital to the UK economy, and it is essential that it takes every step possible to ensure that it is protected against the worst-case scenario.Events in recent years including the Carlisle floods, the Buncefield explosion and even the recent tornadoes in London have shown just how suddenly businesses can be hit.I urge all SMEs to get real about business continuity planning now, and ensure that they are in a position to survive should the worst happen.

If you would like to know more about how your organisation can get involved and benefit from working with the Continuity Forum, please email us HERE! or call on + 44 (0) 208 993 1599.