Flooding insurance ‘risk’
Millions of householders face the prospect of being unable to insure their homes against flooding without continued investment in flood risk management, council leaders have warned.
An agreement between the government and the insurance industry currently allows homes and businesses in flood risk areas to purchase cover so long as the government is doing its part to mitigate the risks. The agreement runs out in 2013 and the LGA fears that the insurance industry may refuse to offer affordable cover if it does not have confidence that sufficient resources are being invested in flood defences.
Householders, businesses and local and central government would be left to pick up the bill for repairing the damage caused by any future floods. One in six properties in England and Wales is currently at risk of flooding.
The Environment Agency says spending on flood risk management will need to double to £1bn per year by 2035 just to maintain the number of properties currently protected from flooding. From April 2011, councils will incur new costs as they take on new responsibilities under the Flood and Water Management Act. Cllr Gary Porter, chairman of the LGA environment board, said:
“The government has made it clear there are going to be deep cuts in public spending. But there is a real danger that if sufficient resources are not put into managing the risk of flooding, millions of households could find themselves in the awful position of being unable to insure their property against the risk of floods. “There are huge opportunities to save money by giving power to the people who know their areas best and who can direct funding where it is needed most.
” The LGA is calling for a programme of change to strip out the plethora of funding streams, accountability regimes, ring-fenced budgets, quangos and funding bodies in the public sector, to release savings of up to £20bn a year (see right). It believes public services can be made cheaper, simpler, more effective and more transparent by making locally-elected people responsible for decisions about local services.
There are 5.5 million properties at risk of flooding in England and Wales.
- Action needed now on flooding Councils should not wait for new legislation to take action on flood management, the government has said. An LGA conference on the Pitt review of last year’s floods heard that town halls can and should be working to improve flood prevention and management now.
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