Many UK homes will be at risk of being ruined by flood damage unless more is spent on bolstering defences in the coming years, a group of MPs has claimed.
Findings from a study by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee suggest that the amount spent on defences needs to rise by £20 million a year over the next quarter of a century to safeguard homes against rising waters, particularly those that are most at-risk.
It comes at a sensitive time in the fight to boost flood protection for UK consumers, with the Statement of Principles for Flood Insurance, which requires insurers to cover homes and businesses in high-risk areas, being extended just weeks before its deadline.
Opening the floodgates
Though the government has vowed to invest in flood defences, the MPs select committee claims that the projected spend is not high enough to deliver the required protection.
Spending on flood defences is set to rise to £370 million in 2015-16, then be protected in real terms until 2020, which the coalition says will deliver improved protection to at least 300,000 homes, but the MPs noted that this will be only £16 million higher than in 2010-11, and around £80 million lower than the level deemed sufficient to mitigate flood risk.
“Retaining funding constant until the end of 2020 will further increase the shortfall as the Environmental Agency estimated that funding would need to continue to rise to reach £550 million in 2020-21,” the committee said.
The group observed that 2% of households are considered to be at high risk of flooding and stated that increased spending will not just help to protect those homes but will also serve the wider economy as communities and farmland will be less likely to be disrupted by the rising water levels.