Businesses fearing closure after being cut off from phone and Internet access for four weeks have been offered compensation – of just 56p per day.

Firms in Southampton have lost thousands of pounds in custom due to the problems, which owners claim are “crippling” their Swaythling businesses.

But BT bosses have further angered traders in High Road, after a local councillor claimed that they had been offered as little as 56p per day in compensation.

Ward councillor Maureen Turner labelled the offer “derisory”, while businessmen also slammed the move.

Nuellur Rahman, co-owner of Mumbai India Kitchen, said: “That doesn’t come close to covering the business that we have lost. We’ve lost about 35 per cent of our custom due to BT, so I want something similar back from them. BT are failing us, simple as that. It’s disgraceful.”

Cllr Turner said: “These people have lost hundreds of pounds in business and they are only being offered this derisory amount. It’s a kick in the face really.

“BT must get their act together and take responsibility for a service they have promised to provide.”

As reported by the Daily Echo, the lines went dead on November 1, with BT blaming the breakdowns on water damage to an underground cable.

But the problems could continue into the new year after the telecoms giant admitted it had no idea when the service would be up and running again.

Lee Bennett, who has run LVs and Volume Hair Design for 17 years, said: “We’ve heard that they are going to have to dig up the road on December 30. If that’s the case then we will be without phones and Internet until well into the new year.

“This is the busiest time of year in our trade, or in any trade. Every time we don’t pick up the phone, we lose a sale because we can’t make an appointment. It’s cost us about £500 a week.”

Shane Pletts, who runs the Racquet Centre, said: “These problems are crippling for business.”

A BT spokesperson said: “We are doing all we can to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, but at this stage I do not have a date for the full restoration of services.

“We are having to completely rebuild underground equipment before we can start restoring service to customers. Part of this work has been completed, but there is still more to do.

“With regards to compensation, we would always advise customers to speak to their own service providers. At the moment our number one priority is to restore service.”