NEARLY one in four small businesses were forced to close during the cold snap, costing them up to £5,000 each, new figures show.
Many of the firms affected shut for at least five days, a Federation of Small Business (FSB) poll said.
Twenty-four per cent of the 1,300 firms surveyed said they had to close and, of these, 37 per cent said they closed for up to five days, and an extra seven per cent shut for even longer, because of transport problems, workers being absent and losing access to premises.
Members also said the rise in fuel duty and VAT will have a significant impact on their business.
Gordon Millward, regional chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Heavy snowfall and severe weather has
put a strain on already hard-hit small firms at such an important time for businesses.
"This, coupled with the increase in VAT and the huge rise in fuel duty, is really undermining the potential of small businesses, at a time when the Government is putting much of its hope into the sector to put the economy back onto firm ground.
"While the Government cannot control the weather, it can reduce the impact record fuel duty rates has on everyone."