MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee today launched a report which criticises the Government for failing to secure significant private sector funding for new flood defences.

In addition, the report, Managing Flood Risk, warns that current funding allocations fail to protect agricultural land in particular, which is posing a risk to the security of UK food production.

Committee chair, Anne McIntosh MP, said: “Record rainfall in the past two years has led to extensive flooding, cost the economy millions and caused disruption and distress to householders and communities across the UK.”

The Government announced in its spending review that it would boost spending on new defences to £370m in 2015-16, which is almost a 50% increase compared with this year.

McIntosh said any capital funding for flood defences was welcome, noting that every £1 spent on flood defences to protect communities creates economic benefits worth £8.

However, she argued that spending on flood defences had “not kept pace” with rising risks from more frequent severe weather.

“The Chancellor must ensure that investment increases by £20m year on year. We need that money over the next 25 years to protect homes and businesses better. Maintenance of these defences and effective dredging of watercourses must be a priority,” added McIntosh.

The Committee also confirmed its support for the proposed ‘Flood Re’ insurance scheme, which would be funded by a small levy, “probably about £10 a year”, on all household insurance customers.

The Committee insists this would allow everyone to receive affordable insurance but has reassured householders it would introduce safeguards to keep the cost of levies down.

McIntosh said: “Delay by the Government and the insurance industry in agreeing provision of affordable flood insurance has caused a lot of householders unnecessary uncertainty.

“The opaque cross-subsidy provided in the current Statement of Principles must be translated into a more transparent scheme with clear and robust governance arrangements.”

Conor McGlone

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