Survey reveals major cost of weather disruption

IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, has released the results of a survey on the economic cost of the recent adverse weather conditions. On the basis of the results, IBEC estimates that the total value of economic output lost last week was approximately €700 million: €500 million in the services sector and €200 million in the manufacturing sector.

Eighty four per cent of survey respondents said that the response of national government was inadequate, while 69 per cent of respondents said the response of local government was inadequate.

“While major weather events will inevitably disrupt economic life, we need to be better prepared to meet these challenges,” said IBEC head of transport Pat Ivory. “Both the flooding at the end of last year and the recent freezing weather highlight the urgent need to improve the cooperation between national and local government, and the various agencies involved.

“Lack of coordinated planning exacerbates the economic cost of serious weather conditions and causes major disruption to commercial life. While the worst of the bad weather seems to have passed for the moment, serious questions remain as to the ability of the State to cope had the forecast for more bad weather this week materialised. IBEC is calling on the Government to work with industry to devise a strategic response in advance of such situations occurring in the future.

“While much of this lost output will be recovered over the coming weeks as business returns to normal, especially given that firms have significant spare capacity, a considerable proportion of the lost output will not be recovered,” he added. “The permanent cost to the economy is probably in the region of €200 million to €300 million.

“Many companies are already struggling to survive, and the bad weather has only added to the very serious difficulties they are in.”

The following are the main findings, and relate to working hours/production, etc, lost above and beyond normal trends for the year: Estimated daily percentage of staff absent since January 1 was 12.9 per cent (236 companies ), estimated percentage of daily work hours lost since January 1 was 17.4 per cent (222 companies ), estimated percentage of sales lost since January 1 was 18.8 per cent (181 companies ), and estimated percentage of production lost since January 1 was 12 per cent (142 companies ).

The IBEC survey was sent on Friday January 8 to a random sample of IBEC member companies. The findings are based on 261 responses.

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