The economic impact of the 2015 Boxing Day floods on the regional economy of Calderdale has been estimated at £170 million, with SMEs suffering double the losses of the previous winter floods in 2012 and some closing permanently.
The figures, which show an average loss per firm of £47,000, representing around 12% of their annual turnover, were presented in a report conducted by the University of Leeds, Calderdale Council and Upper Calder Valley Renaissance. Researchers found that 16,000 businesses had been affected, hundreds of jobs are now at risk and around 17% of businesses are still unable to open three months later.
The report was led by Dr Paola Sakai, research fellow at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, who said: “We found that firms with more than 20 employees experienced the highest losses, but for businesses with less than four employees the losses were twice as high – relative to their income. Our research shows that in the wake of a more intense flood event, such as that experienced in the Calder Valley late last year, direct losses were twice as high and businesses take longer to recover.”
The authors conclude that a window of opportunity has emerged to limit the impact of similar disasters in the future and that, with the effects of climate change making extreme weather events more frequent, intense and uncertain, damages across society will escalate if businesses are not assisted to become resilient and sustainable.