Saturday, 31 July, 2021

Floods: Budget will double spending on defences, says Treasury

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PA Media

Funding for flood defences in England is expected to be doubled to £5.2bn over five years in the forthcoming budget, the Treasury has said.

The money, due to be announced on March 11, will help to build 2,000 new flood and coastal defence schemes and protect 336,000 properties in the country.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said communities had been “hit hard” in recent floods.

The funding – double the £2.6bn budgeted between 2015 and 2021 – is due to be available from April 2021.

This year was the wettest February in the UK since records began in 1862, with more than three times the average rainfall – as three successive storms left rivers bursting their banks and communities flooded.

In some of the worst-hit areas in the Midlands, Wales and south Yorkshire, homes and businesses flooded three times in a matter of weeks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced criticism from Labour for going “Awol” during the emergency and for failing to budget enough for flood defences.

But the Treasury said this spending commitment now puts the government “on track” to meet the investment recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.

The government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority previously projected that it would spent £4.7bn on flood defences up to 2026, but the funding had not been confirmed.

MPs in northern England called for flood defence spending to be reallocated, as the plans showed that a third of the money was expected to be spend in London and the South East of England.

But the Treasury said every region would benefit from the investment and the North East and North West of England would receive the highest level of funding per property at risk of flooding.

Mr Sunak said: “Communities up and down Britain have been hit hard by the floods this winter, so it is right that we invest to protect towns, families, and homes across the UK.”

The chancellor is also due to announced a £120m fund to repair flood defences that were damaged in the recent storms, bringing at least 300 schemes back to full operation, the Treasury said.

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