Government hits back at flood risk management report
The Government has rubbished National Audit Office (NAO) criticisms that it is not allocating enough money to flooding defences.
Flooding Minister Dan Rogerson said the NAO figures - released this morning - were misleading, as the Government's real-term flood spending has increased by 5% compared with the previous administration.
"The NAO has drawn conclusions on funding based on inappropriate comparisons," said Rogerson. "We have invested £3.2 billion in flood management and defences, which is a real term increase and half a billion more than in the previous parliament. This has allowed us to protect 165,000 families and households in vulnerable areas.
"Following one of the wettest winters on record we have worked side by side with the Environment Agency to get our flood defences ready for this winter. We made £270 million available to repair any flood defences that were damaged last winter, to make sure they are ready to protect homes and businesses. Last month the Agency met its deadline to restore flood protection in all areas affected by the winter floods."
Lib Dem MP Rogerson also disputed claims that the Government had taken a short-term approach to the flooding problem.
"Not only are we spending more than ever before, but we are also ensuring that our investment strategy will deliver long-term value for money," he explained. "Next month, we will set out the first ever 6-year programme with record levels of investment, which will protect another 300,000 homes by the end of the decade."
The Flooding Minister went on to criticise the NAO for its decision to discount £200m of emergency funding made available to help respond to the winter floods in its report. Rogerson argued that the cash should be considered in funding calculations because it had been used in standard Environment Agency operations.
"Repairs are carried out after every flooding event, large or small, often funded from the Agency's existing budget," he said. "Previous years' spending therefore also includes costs relating to incident response and repairing damaged flood defences."
Read the NAO report here.