Record investment for flood schemes will better protect homes and businesses from danger of climate change
We are making changes to allow insurers to help flooded households to make their homes more resilient to future flooding and looking at ways to ensure our flood defence investment programme can further benefit frequently flooded communities.
In recent weeks, we have seen images of catastrophic flash flooding around the world. Last weekend saw heavy downpours lead to significant surface water in areas like London and earlier this year, Storm Christoph caused significant damage to homes, businesses and communities.
Climate change means more extreme weather, a higher risk of flooding events and coastal erosion. Between 2015 and March this year, the government invested £2.6 billion into flood defences. This has led more than 300,000 home being better protected.
But there is more to do. Over the next six years, we are doubling the amount of money invested to £5.2 billion. That is why I have announced that 1,000 flood schemes across England will receive over £860 million in 2021/22 – record investment that will deliver everything from raised and strengthened flood walls in Hebden Bridge, to new peatland and woodland in order to slow the flow of rainwater in Weardale, and replenished beaches in Lincolnshire to better protect homes and businesses from the sea.
We are going even further, by making changes to the joint government and industry Flood Re scheme. The scheme has already been successful. Prior to Flood Re just 9% of policy holders with a prior flood claim could obtain flood insurance quotes from two or more insurers and no one in that situation could get quotes from five or more. Following the Scheme’s launch in 2016, access to flood insurance policies for those with prior flood claims has increased dramatically and around 96% of customers can now get five or more quotes.
The scheme has already helped over 350,000 households at high risk of flooding across the UK to access affordable insurance, and now we are strengthening it further.
We are now making changes to allow insurers to help flooded households to make their homes more resilient to future flooding. That could include using products such as air brick covers, flood doors and flood resistant plasterboard, helping homes build back better from flooding incidents. Households will also benefit from discounted insurance premiums if they have resilience measures installed.
We are also setting out steps to improve the access and availability of flood insurance for those at risk and who have flood cover excluded from their policy, in response to the Independent Review of Flood Insurance carried out by Amanda Blanc in the wake of the devastating flooding across South Yorkshire in 2019. We are working with industry to encourage them to reduce flood exclusions through a new industry-led Code of Practice.
We are also setting up a cross-government working group to help improve take-up of flood insurance among private sector tenants, to ensure that they have the support that they need if they are affected by flooding.
We are determined to accelerate the take-up of property flood resilience measures, and make sure that people have the assurances and information that they need. This goes hand in hand with other measures that I have announced this week.
Following our recent call for evidence to look at better protecting and better preparing our communities, we will be consulting this autumn on ways to strengthen the assessment of local circumstances when allocating funding. This will include looking at ways to ensure that our flood defence investment programme can further benefit frequently flooded communities.
We must also ensure that we are not storing up problems for ourselves in the future. In most cases the Environment Agency’s advice to planners on flooding is followed well, but in 2019-20 there were still 866 homes granted planning permission contrary to their advice.
New guidance will be issued to drive up compliance with planning rules to ensure that local planning authorities refer planning decisions to Ministers when the Environment Agency is sustaining an objection on flood risk so homes aren’t unsuitably built in flood risk areas.
These are just some of the steps we are taking in our comprehensive plans, all designed to give us the best chance of adapting and building resilience to climate change.
George Eustice is the Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth and is the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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