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Swine flu: Local councils are failing in their duty to help small firms prepare for an epidemic

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Local authorities are not doing enough to help small businesses put in measures to prepare for a swine flu pandemic, according to the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

Councils in the UK are obliged to help local businesses put measures in place to deal with outbreaks of infection but, according to the FPB, none of is members has received any support or guidance on the issue from their local authorities and are instead turning to the forum for help.

Under the Civil Contingencies Act (2004), local authorities are required to help their local businesses to make sure crises do not cause widespread collapse of business. And with smaller employers particularly at risk, the FPB is calling on councils to do more.

Matt Goodman, policy representative at the FPB, said: "Small businesses pay their hefty business rates for one reason - in exchange for the services and infrastructure provided by their council - so you would expect them to be given a little bit of guidance at this critical time.

"Swine flu could prove to be a major headache for thousands of small firms that don't have the workforce to absorb staff sicknesses, so it is vitally important that they are given every possible bit of help to see them through it."