A million new homes could be uninsurable

Thousands of those hit by last summer's floods in the UK are still living in temporary accommodation and insurers have warned that a million homeowners could suffer the same fate in the future.

Government figures published on Wednesday revealed more than half of the 15,000 households forced to leave their homes after the deluges in June and July have returned so far, and more than three quarters are expected to have returned before Easter.

But thousands are still facing the prospect of many months in temporary homes and the total cost of the floods for the insurance industry is expected to be £3bn. More than £1bn has been paid out already.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) warned on Thursday that tougher planning controls are needed to make sure that future homeowners can get flood insurance.

Speaking at the Architects Journal conference on Thursday, Justin Jacobs, the ABI’s assistant director of property, said a third of the 3m new homes the Government plans to build by 2020 will be on the floodplain.

He said: “The Government’s ambitious housing plans are in jeopardy unless we reduce the flood risk.

“Insurers want to continue to provide flood cover, but poor planning decisions will lead to more homes becoming unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable.”

Mr Jacobs’ criticisms came a day after Government and the ABI confirmed they will carry out a UK-wide review of the Statement of Principles – an agreement that all properties will given flood insurance, with premiums reflecting different degrees of risk.

One of the areas the review will cover will be the promotion of increased flood resilience – such as preventing inappropriate development in high flood risk areas – and it will look at some of the interim conclusions of the Pitt Review.

The Home Builders Federation, argued Government planning policies already require a strong assessment of flood risk before planning applications are granted.

External affairs director John Slaughter added: “It is not in our interests to build in areas which are difficult to insure or at risk of flooding. These homes will simply not sell.”

Kate Martin

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