Insurers, lenders and local authorities join forces to boost flood resilience for SMEs

Pictured: Dr Paola Sakai

A project to promote a better understanding of the impact of flooding on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and help them to become more resilient has been carried out in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

The findings of –  ‘Bridging the knowledge gap to boost SME resilience’ – are being presented at a virtual event on Wednesday 9 June, 10am – 12noon.

Book your place at the free event.

The aim of the project, which started in November 2019, was to work with a range of different sectors including insurers, lenders and local authorities across the region to provide better and more tailored support for SMEs resulting in a more resilient sector.

SMEs make up 99% of Yorkshire’s private sector and they are most likely to be vulnerable to flooding. The knock–on effects to the regional economy of a flood event are significant and far-reaching, however there is a lack of knowledge about the economic impacts of flooding on SMEs.

How the findings will help SMEs and local authorities

Dr Paola Sakai, UKRI Research and Innovation fellow, who has been leading this partnership from the University of Leeds, said: “We are really excited to be sharing the findings of this project about the innovative ways of increasing flood resilience which will benefit both local authorities and SMEs.

“The results of this project are helping to fill the gap in knowledge identified in my previous study in terms of the economic costs of flooding on SMEs and the effectiveness of property flood protection.

“This lack of information is causing significant challenges for SMEs, insurers and lenders, surveyors and brokers, as well as local and regional authorities and the central government.

“My recommendations were submitted to Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and I’m happy that after over a year of work we have made progress on some of the recommendations and are having an impact.

“A key part of this project has been to develop a robust methodology to help local authorities assess the direct and indirect costs of flooding in a more consistent and timely way.

“Our data will also provide evidence to help local authorities to prepare more robust business plans and lobby for additional funding to ensure they can be better prepared to respond to flooding in the future.”

“Another part of the project has been the close collaboration we have had with lenders, insurers, surveyors and brokers. The tool we co-developed allows them to better assess the risk facing SMEs in areas at risk of flooding, as well as allowing SMEs to increase their own awareness of flood risk. If we want to have a more resilient SMEs sector, we all need to play a part.”

Innovative tools developed through the project

Two innovative tools that will contribute to flood resilience for SMEs have been developed with partners including University of Leeds, University of York, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), West Yorkshire Combined Authorities, the Environment Agency, the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, flood risk managers from across the Yorkshire and Humber region, Sedgwick, Brodgen Consultants, DEFRA Flood Resilience Roundtable, Upper Calder Valley Renaissance, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

The first is a Tool to Assess the Economic Costs of flooding on SMEs (TAEC), which aims to increase the capacity of local authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber, to carry out assessments of the indirect and direct impact of flooding on SMEs in a consistent and timely way in the future.

The second tool is to Assess the Effectiveness of Resilience Measures (TAER) developed by working with lenders, insurers, surveyors, and brokers. This will allow them to offer better and more tailored products for SMEs as they will be based on a better understanding of the sector’s risk. Flood insurance is an essential flood risk management strategy for SMEs. The tool will help to ensure risk is accurately priced and flood risk is properly management by SMEs.

Read more about the project

Dr Sakai is also working on another iCASP project being run as part of the Yorkshire Future Flood Resilience Pathfinder. The Pathfinder focuses on encouraging people to put in place measures that protect their own property to avoid losses.