A call for a strategic approach to enhancing the flood resilience of local economies

Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank have caused severe damage and economic losses across the Northern Powerhouse area and its rural hinterland of Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Recovery from this damage will take time for individuals and households and may have potentially longer term impacts for the many small businesses which are of crucial importance to local economies.

Small, and specifically micro businesses (those with less than 10 employees) are over-represented in some of the worst hit local authority areas such as Eden and Ribble Valley districts. Whilst Government is stepping in to provide funding for immediate recovery efforts, there is a need for a more concerted strategic approach to improving the flood resilience of small businesses both in terms of business support and power, transport and ICT infrastructure.

Small businesses are often the least prepared, most severely affected and least able to recover from flood events due to damages to assets, access to supplies and customers, and hikes in insurance premiums. In England, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Combined Authorities have increased powers and responsibilities in relation to business support and infrastructure. Guidance for the development of their strategic plans requires that they create an environment which enables private investment in growth – supporting confidence and making it attractive for businesses to invest; and that they ensure strategies and activities take full account of the opportunities and risks of climate change. It is now essential that LEPs and Combined Authorities ensure that this guidance is not just adhered to, but actively promoted in day to day implementation and delivery.

Development Economics, in partnership with JBA Consulting, can provide a unique insight into local economic resilience from advising on strategic plans to masterplanning of developments, undertaking climate change risk assessments and adaptation planning, developing local resilience business support programmes and advising individual small businesses on appropriate property level protection measures.

JBA’s engineers have been on the ground supporting the recovery efforts in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire over Christmas and the New Year providing a unique insight into the very real impacts for business. JBA and Development Economics are also currently working on flood defence projects in Devon, Somerset and Lincolnshire.

Please get in touch so that we can improve the resilience of our local economies together.