UK SMEs poorly prepared for water outages, new research finds
The UK's SMEs are underprepared for water outages and supply disruptions, according to new research from Water Plus, the UK’s largest business water retailer.
The new study finds that just one in 10 (11%) small and medium-sized businesses has a plan in place to mitigate problems with their water supply, which Water Plus says puts them at risk of falls in productivity.
The proportion of businesses proactively planning to deal with a water outage remains unchanged from an identical study conducted by Water Plus in 2017, indicating that increasingly unpredictable seasonal weather has had little impact on company attitudes to water which is worrying given the impact an outage can have on business.
In comparison, a third (34%) of large firms* have plans in place to mitigate a water outage, leading the retailer to call for more SME business owners and managers to put contingency plans in place, and to check they understand what they’re responsible for at their property or site.
The research – which surveyed more than 600 SME firms from across the UK – found that business leaders expect to lose as much as a fifth (19%) of their company’s production or sales, on average, in the event of a supply interruption which lasts 24 hours or more.
Almost four in 10 SMEs in the UK (39%) experienced an interruption to their water supply in the last 12 months, according to the findings, with as many as one in five (21%) of the respondents explaining that they had experienced a drop in productivity or ability to operate their business as a direct consequence of incidents such as leaking or frozen pipes or water outage.
Scott MacIndeor, head of advanced services at Water Plus, said: “Supply interruptions can happen at any time, and from our study it’s clear that there is a business blind-spot when it comes to being prepared. It’s critical that organisations and sites put plans in place to ensure they’re able to operate without too much disruption and return to business-as-usual as quickly as possible in the event of a leak, frozen pipe or water network outage.
“Many businesses, including those with smaller pockets, simply aren’t aware of the responsibilities they have for the water infrastructure within the boundaries of their property, from the point of the water meter, which can not only be costly but also lead to confusion when things go wrong. As we head into the colder months and the risk of pipes freezing or cracking increases, I’d encourage business leaders to develop both reactive and proactive maintenance plans to minimise the potential impact on their operations both this winter and beyond.”
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