Press release

New flood representative visits Lowestoft and Norwich

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock, who was appointed by the Prime Minister as the Ministerial flood envoy for East Anglia and South Lincolnshire, today (24 April 2014) visited Lowestoft and Norwich to meet small businesses to learn how they were impacted by the flooding earlier in the year and see the recovery process first hand.

The Ministerial flood representatives are tasked with:

  • understanding the impact in affected areas, especially weaknesses exposed
  • tracking progress towards recovery and reporting directly to the Prime Minister
  • assessing the effectiveness of multi-agency joint working in affected areas (for both response and recovery)
  • identifying lessons learned; ensuring work is in train to improve resilience for winter 2014 to 2015

Small businesses in Lowestoft have been benefiting from the government’s £10 million Business Support Scheme, as part of a wider £540 million package for flood recovery. The tidal surge in December 2013 was the largest surge in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex since 1953, and resulted in approximately 160 properties in Lowestoft and Oulton Broad being flooded.

Ministerial flood representative for East Anglia and South Lincolnshire, Matthew Hancock said:

Last winter was the wettest ever and I want to place on record my thanks to the emergency services, local authorities, and Environment Agency for their hard work over the past months. Now that the clear-up is largely complete we need to take stock of what lessons we can learn for the future and how we can improve flood resilience and tackle coastal erosion in the region.

Following his visit to see the impact on local businesses and damage to the sea front in Lowestoft, Matthew Hancock attended a meeting with Risk Management Authorities in Norwich, including representatives from the Local Enterprise Partnerships, South Lincolnshire District Council, Norfolk County Council, Norfolk North District Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Suffolk County Council and MPs.

Notes to Editors

1.The government put in place a package of support to help homeowners, businesses and communities affected by floods:

  • for homeowners and businesses which have been affected by flooding, repair and renew grants of up to £5,000 per house and per business to help people build in better flood protection
  • businesses which have been affected by the floods will get 100% business rate relief for 3 months and will get an extra 3 months to pay the business taxes they owe
  • a Business Support Scheme worth up to £10 million to provide hardship funding for small and medium-sized businesses in areas affected by the floods
  • farmers who are suffering from water-logged fields will be able to benefit from a £10 million Farming Recovery fund which will help to restore farm land as quickly as possible
  • up to £4 million to fund a council tax rebate of at least 3 months to help provide people whose properties
  • £30 million for local authorities in England for road maintenance required due to severe weather
  • funding a £31 million package of 10 key rail resilience projects for the south west
  • an extra £140 million is being made available to help repair roads hit by weather damage, with £80 million of that specifically for flood-hit areas. In order to qualify for this extra funding, local authorities will be required to publish information on their websites by the end of August 2014 showing where this money has been spent

2.The £10 million Business Support Scheme was established to help over 2,000 businesses with hardship funding, meeting exceptional costs arising from the impacts of flooding. 65 local authorities were allocated funding, from the Isles of Scilly in the far south west to Sunderland in the North East.

3.The Prime Minister established a new Cabinet Committee on flooding in February 2014.

4.The Ministerial flood representatives are tasked with:

  • understanding the impact in affected areas, especially weaknesses exposed
  • tracking progress towards recovery and reporting directly to the Prime Minister
  • assessing the effectiveness of multi-agency joint working in affected areas (for both response and recovery)
  • identifying lessons learned; ensuring work is in train to improve resilience for winter 2014-15

A full list of Ministerial flood representatives is available from the No.10 press office which can be contacted on 020 7930 4433.

5.For further information on the Repair and Renew grants or flood defences, please contact the Department for Communities and Local Government press office on 030 3444 1201.

6.For further information on the Farming Recovery Fund, please contact the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs press office on 020 7238 6140.

7.For further information on transport infrastructure funding, please contact the Department for Transport press office on 020 7944 3118.

8.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 24 April 2014