A report by MPs says the government is failing those in flood-prone areas in a number of ways
July 6, 2016 — During last December and January, floods in the northern half of the UK cost insurance companies £1.3bn. Bridges and roads were destroyed, hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated, and many of these are still recovering. The government reacted by reversing earlier decisions to cut spending on flood defences and then hoped the problem would go away; but this is wishful thinking.
The House of Commons environment audit committee that looked into the problem says the government is failing those in flood-prone areas in a number of ways. Apart from lack of any strategic thinking, ministers are failing to provide funds to maintain even existing flood barriers, leaving communities that think they are protected with an unacceptable risk.
The committee points out that with climate change there will be more extreme weather in the UK, with more frequent and deeper floods, yet ministers are making no preparation for this.
The government is secretive about its plans and fails to support even those local authorities which attempt to prevent flooding. Companies that provide vital services such as electricity and water have no requirement to have a flood resilience plan, yet MPs believe these should be compulsory.
But perhaps the most damning part of the report concerns the £700m of new funding for flood defences announced in this year’s budget. This was allocated not according to strict economic criteria but on the basis of “political calculation”. According to the committee, this could lead to “inefficiencies in flood investment, poor decision making and regionally unfair outcomes”.
Translated, this means areas that vote Conservative, particularly in marginal seats, get new flood defences and the rest probably won’t.