Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Government support for flood risk households

Government support for flood risk households

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref : 252/08) issued by The Government News Network on 30 July 2008

Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is today setting out plans to contribute at least £5 million to a scheme to support households in England which face a particularly high risk of flooding but which are not protected by traditional community level defences.

The funding comes on top of any help already provided by local authorities, the insurance industry and households themselves.

A consultation inviting views on how best the money can be spent is being published today and looks at the possibility of providing a free home flood survey and offering a grant to cover some of the costs of the measures themselves.

Environment Minister Phil Woolas said:

"Traditional community level defences are not a viable answer to flooding in all areas, but individual householders can make a big difference themselves by protecting their properties. The Government wants to support people in making relatively simple changes which can nevertheless have a huge impact on a property's resilience. Measures such as door-boards, air-brick covers, water-proof walls and floors, and raised electrics, can all reduce any potential damage caused by floodwater.

"Research suggests that these measures can also cut the financial costs of flooding by 50 - 80 per cent. They lessen the disruption and distress, and can halve the amount of time it takes to dry out and repair a property.

"Putting a package of measures in place can cost £4,000 to £5,000 for the average semi-detached house, but it could prevent flood damage of up to tens of thousands of pounds, as well as the attendant distress and disruption that flooding can cause."

Floods Recovery Minister John Healey said:

"Last summer's floods were the worst for a generation, affecting 48,000 homes and prompting over 180,000 insurance claims.

"While councils and insurers continue working to get people back home as quickly as possible, and £133 million Government funding has been made available to communities to help them get back on their feet, the floods showed that individuals can also do their bit to minimise flooding risk and damage.

"Even small practical steps can make a big difference when floods hit. So I welcome the extra £5 million that will be made available to help homeowners take the most effective steps to protect their properties."

Defra is also publishing today an outline of a proposed new National Flood Emergency Framework. This fulfils a commitment made by Hilary Benn on 25 June 2008, following the publication of Sir Michael Pitt's final independent report into the summer 2007 floods. In line with Sir Michael's recommendations, the proposed framework, on which there will be public consultation, will bring together information, guidance and key policies in a single strand of planning. It will provide a resource for all of the organisations involved in planning for, and responding to, major flooding incidents.

Notes to editors

1. The consultation on property-level flood protection and resilience is available from http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/flood-protection and the deadline is 31 October 2008

2. Today's announcement represents part of Defra's adaptation framework http://www.defra.gov.uk/adaptation

3. The National Flood Emergencies Framework is available from http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/floodincidents/contin.htm

4. In research for Defra, Entec and Greenstreet Berman found that property-level flood protection measures are economically worthwhile when the annual chance of flooding is 2 per cent or more (once every 50 years on average). In a survey of 1,200 households and businesses, Entec and Greenstreet Berman found that only one-third of those who have been flooded in the past have taken any steps to reduce the impact of flooding on their property or possessions, and less than one-in-ten of those at-risk but who have not been flooded have taken steps to protect themselves. More details on this work are available here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/adaptationandresilience/propertyresilience.htm

5. Defra recently completed a £500,000 pilot scheme to examine whether grants provided an effective means of increasing take-up of flood protection. The scheme improved the standard of protection for nearly 200 properties. Pilots were run in six different locations: Dunhill Estate, Halton, Leeds; Bleasby, Nottingham; Sandside, Kirkby-in-Furness, Cumbria; Sunderland Point, Morecambe, Lancashire; The Sands, Appleby, Cumbria; Uckfield, East Sussex. A summary report for the pilots is available here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/adaptationandresilience/propertyresilience.htm

6. Today Defra is also consulting in parallel on a separate policy statement on the Government's new policy on a Strategic Appraisal Framework for Flooding and Coastal Erosion Risk Management http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/flood-appraisal/index.htm]. The new policy is a concise restatement of the requirements of appraisal for flooding and coastal erosion risk management together with updated appraisal policy reflecting the strategic and policy principles of first Government response to the Making Space for Water consultation (March 2005). Practitioner guidance for the implementation of these appraisal policies will be provided by the Environment Agency, in association with other operating authorities by the end of 2008

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