A large majority (83%) of Britain’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not consider loss of energy supply to be a major risk to their business, according to a new survey.

Only 17% believe this to be a threat to their business; although they do perceive it to be a greater risk than data security issues (15%) and high rates of staff absence (7%).

On average, senior managers in small businesses claim that their company has lost two working days due to a loss of electricity or gas in the last five years.

Businesses which employ between 100-249 employees claim they lost an average of three working days in the last five years. This rises to six days for companies with an annual turnover between £50m and £100m.

James Bennett, managing director of Business Services at British Gas, said: “With winter fast approaching, now is the time for small businesses to make sure they have well maintained heating and hot water systems. Companies with annual servicing or maintenance plans in place are better positioned to focus their time on creating revenues and growth.”

The survey was carried out amongst more than 500 SME business owners and senior managers with responsibility for gas and electricity as well as boilers and heating systems at their commercial premises.

British Gas Business says the poll shows that many companies need to take action now to help reduce the risk of losing heating or hot water this winter.

The survey also revealed that only a fifth of small businesses had testing procedures in place to help reduce the risk of losing heating or hot water, and 41% of senior managers neglect to carry out an annual service of their appliances like boilers.

The proportion rises to 45% in companies with fewer than ten employees and almost three quarters (72%) of companies with fewer than 10 employees have no maintenance plan in place.