West Yorkshire economy takes £170m flood hit

THE cost to the economy of two West Yorkshire districts from the Boxing Day floods could be as much as £170m with small firms the hardest hit, according to a new study.
Hebden Bridge was among the areas hardest hitHebden Bridge was among the areas hardest hit
Hebden Bridge was among the areas hardest hit

The report found more than 1,600 businesses in Calderdale and Kirklees were affected by flooding with almost three-quarters losing stock and close to half suffering damage to office equipment.

While larger businesses experienced the biggest financial losses, the impact on smaller firms in comparison to their income was much greater.

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More than 100 jobs could be lost in the next three months and “hundreds of businesses will become uninsurable”, the report says.

The £170m figure represents just over one per cent of the area’s economic output.

Mark Thompson, Calderdale Council’s acting director of economy and environment, said: “The report confirms the enormity of the damage and the need for further financial support – the total economic impact to the Calderdale and Kirklees regional economy is around £170 million.

“However, it also highlights that yet again, in the face of the worst floods for a generation, Calderdale businesses have come together to help each other and are largely starting to bounce back.”

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The report, compiled by experts from Leeds University with the help of Calderdale Council and the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance organisation, found the area is finding it harder to recover this time compared to the last major flooding in 2012.

It says the recovery time is double that of 2012 and the losses around a third larger.

Some parts of the area are recovering quicker than others with just 61 per cent of Hebden Bridge businesses open compared to an average of 83 per cent across the affected area.

Although the majority of the businesses affected had insurance around one-in-seven had an excess on their policy that was so high it was not worth submitting a claim.

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Mr Thompson added: “The scale of damage highlighted in the report reaffirms the need for more financial support to help the business community.

“The council and other organisations continue to do lots to help, and we’re really pleased with the funding awards we’ve received so far.

“We continue to press the Government for further support.”

Calderdale Council has been pressing the Government to help with the costs of repairing damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

The authority was given £19m in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget last month but the total cost of repairs is estimated at £32.5m.

The report is part of the work of a flood commission set up by Calderdale Council to look at the lessons can be learned from the winter floods and the response to the damage.