Flood Ark

Floods Funding: When the Effluent Hits the Affluent

28/10/2016 Flooded house in Shropshire

Funding for flood protection projects has always been a controversial subject. We know that between now and 2021, the Environment Agency is investing £2.5bn to reduce the flood risk of 300,000 homes across the country – though many feel that additional investment and better planning is required if we are to protect all those at risk. However, it was interesting to read statistics published on Monday of this week, which show the disparity between the funding provided for projects in the South East and London, compared with those in other areas of the country.

Figures compiled by the Press Association show the breakdown of investment across the country to be as follows – the figure on the left is Government funding between 2010 and 2015, while the second figures covers the last financial year: 

  • South East: £263.3m / £58.7m 
  • East of England: £241.7m / 55.3m 
  • Yorkshire and the Humber: £183.1m / £43.8m 
  • North West: £160.8m / £42.7m 
  • East Midlands: £147.3m / £18.4m 
  • South West: £146.5m / £27.6m 
  • London: £81.5m / £14.4m 
  • North East: £73.2m / £12.5m 
  • West Midlands: £27.3m / £8.9m 

These figures mean that places such as the South West, which experienced significant flooding across the Somerset Levels in December of 2013 and January 2014, received just £146m - only a little over half of the funding (£263m) delivered to the South East. 

How the Current Funding System Works 

At present, all flood protection schemes must demonstrate that they offer more in benefits than they cost in terms of implementation and ongoing maintenance. This is done by calculating the economic losses which are avoided by protecting property and infrastructure in the area. These considerations can include direct damage to property, the cost of cleaning-up the damage and disruption to public services. It is argued that this system discriminates across poorer households in a number of ways, including: 

  • Greater pay-outs for upper middle or middle class families and professionals who are perceived to have better quality household items than those from working class backgrounds.
  • A cap, limiting the value of damages to no more than the market value of the property, is likely to be higher for properties in the south and east, than those in other parts of the country. 

Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, argues that the existing system is not ‘fit for purpose’:

“Whether you are rich or poor having your home damaged by flooding is devastating – and a postcode lottery to decide who gets protection simply isn’t fair. It’s simply wrong for richer areas to get more protection than poorer areas. The government should urgently review this policy, and re-purpose the formula to give equal protections to people’s homes, no matter what their value. With climate change accelerating and flooding expected to become a more regular occurrence it’s crucial that the government gets this right.” 

In response to Caroline Lucas’ comment, the Environment Agency issued a statement: 

“We know the devastating impact that flooding has on lives and livelihoods. We invest in flood defences where the risk is highest, wherever it is across the country and wherever it will benefit the most people and property. We give each scheme careful consideration – and this includes additional weighting for regional economic differences.” 

In addition to these larger projects, we continue to work with clients who have applied for property level protection through the Government’s £5,000 Flood Resilience Grant. Whilst it is a positive that all applicants are eligible for the same level of funding, to become eligible you must have already experienced a flood – which has always seemed somewhat illogical. 

Rather than waiting for the Government to put funding in place for flood defences in your area, it pays to be proactive and protect your home or business. If you would like to find out more about our range of Kitemark accredited flood barriers, please call us on +44 (0) 1603 879977 to arrange a FREE survey.