Staggering cost of crime to UK businesses

  • 22 Aug 2019

Business crime remains a major issue for small firms up and down the country with both traditional and non-traditional crime costing firms billions every year.

But despite increased awareness of it, cybercrime remains a huge problem with small firms being hit by almost 10,000 cyber-attacks every single day, that’s according to the latest research from FSB.

The findings have shone a spotlight on the sheer scale of the challenge that small firms now face every day. Business crime is a serious problem that is all too often overlooked and action must be taken to not only help to protect small firms, but to also help the wider economy. Cybercrime is a threat that more small firms are waking up to as the dangers evolve over time, but many small businesses lack the awareness or the budget to access some critical software and technologies that could prevent attacks.



Phishing, malware and fraudulent payments are the most common cyber related issues to harm small firms. Across England and Wales, one-in-five small businesses have been a victim of cybercrime across 2017 and 2018.

Other issues that small firms face include identity theft, data theft and invoice fraud, all which can be costly to businesses.

On average there are 3.5 million cyber-attacks against small firms, which means just under 10,000 (9,700) such attacks take place every day.

And while some firms have been hit by just one or two attacks, around 10% of small firms have been the victim of more than 20 individual attacks over the past two years.

Which goes to show the severity of the problem that businesses are facing.

Small firms are losing almost £1,300 for every cyber-attack. Annually the cost to all small firms is more than £4.5 billion.

When it comes to traditional crime, such as fraud, robbery and criminal damage, it is estimated that the direct cost of all this costs small firms £17 billion each year.
The majority (89%) of small firms have implemented at least one cyber resilience measure such as a firewall to help prevent attacks. But many need to use multiple methods to have stronger protections.

This includes regular password changes, implementing a secure wireless network and ensuring systems are up to date.

Some security systems can be expensive, especially for start-ups and businesses without a dedicated IT department, a luxury that larger businesses can afford.

But this isn’t an easy time for small firms due to the already huge pressures that they are facing every single day.

These pressures come from rising employment costs, business rates and sustained political uncertainty over the UK’s exit from the European Union.



Greater resources need to be made available by the Government to help tackle cybercrime, including providing greater funding to the police so that they can address this issues.

To tackle both cyber and traditional crime, FSB has called for the Government to bring police numbers in England and Wales closer to the European average of more than 300 officers per 100,000 people. At the moment, there are only 212 per 100,000.

So FSB has welcomed the new Prime Minister’s promise to increase police numbers, quickly. This will be crucial to help tackle local business crime, which is often overlooked by police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners. This investment needs to be in the right places to ensure that small firms are supported.

The availability of more police officers and resources is a critical step in ensuring that crimes are both prevented and subsequently investigated. It’s important that the Home Office links funding to the proper resourcing of business crime. This sort of action will not only benefit small businesses but the wider economy and the country as a whole.

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