The measures include:
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
Britain is facing some of the worst flooding in decades following the wettest winter in 2 and a half centuries. Through the COBR mechanism, this government continues to take clear action across the board to ensure that everything that can be done is being done; whether that is extra pumps and sandbags, a commitment to dredging in Somerset, deploying the military to shore up flood defences and provide additional support for local emergency services. We are taking, and will continue to take whatever steps are necessary.
And today I have announced a comprehensive package of new measures to help-hardworking homes, businesses and farmers hit by these floods to get back on their feet with special grants for homeowners and businesses, business rate relief, a £10 million fund for farmers and a £750 million commitment from all the major banks to provide financial support. We are helping people who need help and protecting communities who need protecting, and as I said yesterday money is no object to help this flood relief effort.
In addition to the £130 million of increased flood funding already announced, the Prime Minister pledged new action to keep affected areas moving, including:
- the deployment of military personnel to support the flood effort. The military are working through existing Gold and Silver commands to assist local communities and emergency response teams on the ground - reinforcing sandbags and shoring up flood defences, helping children get to school and the sick to medical assistance, providing relief to emergency services who have been working 24/7 and checking on vulnerable individuals
- £31 million confirmed to deliver 10 key rail projects in the South West to improve resilience to flooding, including works at Cowley Bridge in Exeter
- a further £30 million for local authorities in England affected by the severe weather for road maintenance, including pothole repairs
Patrick McLoughlin will chair urgent resilience meetings with the bus and coach operators to ensure that all necessary extra services are in place for the areas currently affected, and to plan for any further capacity required should the severe weather continue and affect other parts of the country.
The Prime Minister will continue to lead the national response by chairing meetings of the government’s emergency committee, COBR. To oversee the government’s wider policy response to the recovery, the Prime Minister has set up a new Cabinet Committee and will chair the first meeting on Thursday.
Details of the new measures
“Repair and renew” grant for all affected homeowners and businesses
The £5,000 grant will provide financial support for households and businesses to pay for repairs which improve a property’s ability to withstand future flooding.
- all affected businesses will be able to apply to their local authority to get business rate relief for 3 months
- further detail will be announced shortly on the application process and eligibility
- HMRC will also set up a new hotline for those who have been affected by flooding and may have difficulties in meeting their tax liabilities
- in all cases HMRC will look to offer up to 3 months additional time to pay. This will cover all taxes owed to HMRC, including VAT, PAYE and corporation tax
£10million fund for farmers suffering water-logged fields
- the government will make available up to £10 million for a one-off grant scheme designed to support farm businesses to restore flooded agricultural land and bring it back into production as quickly as possible
- the fund will also help farmers introduce lasting and sustainable flood prevention measures to help secure future production once land is restored
- the fund will be open for applications by the end of February - we will keep the application window open for as long as possible given uncertainty around flood water levels receding
- the scheme will be open to all farm businesses that require support but will be targeted at those areas most affected by the flood crisis
- the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will announce further details and a single point of contact (for email, post and telephone) shortly
£750 million from the major banks
A total commitment in excess of £750 million from the major banks to provide financial support to business and individual customers affected by the floods.
The packages include a mixture of repayment holidays, reduced or waived fees, loan extensions, increased flexibility of terms, and additional specialist support teams deployed on the ground. This support is being made available to businesses, farmers and individual customers in affected areas.
- RBS have already announced a £250 million interest free loan fund for affected businesses, and have extended this with an offer of repayment holidays for mortgage customers
- Lloyds and Barclays have today announced financial packages of around £250 million each
- HSBC, Santander and Nationwide have also announced extensive programmes of support for their affected business and individual customers
Rail resilience projects
The Department for Transport (DfT) will provide £31million to fund 10 rail resilience projects in the South West to improve resilience to flooding, including works at Cowley Bridge in Exeter.
Network Rail will undertake work at the following locations:
- Cowley Bridge Junction
- Chipping Sodbury
- Whiteball Tunnel South
- Athley – Cogload
- Hele Bradninch
- Flax Bourton
- Patchway up Tunnel
- earthworks strengthening at Honiton and Crewkerne
Network Rail will also install rainfall, river flow and groundwater monitoring around Cowley Bridge Junction and Chipping Sodbury.
Funding for local authorities
The Department for Transport (DfT) will provide £30 million of additional funding for local authorities in England affected by the severe weather for road maintenance, including pothole repairs. This is in addition to the £3.5 million transport element of the £7 million flood recovery package announced on 17 January.
Industry resilience meetings
The Prime Minister has tasked the Transport Secretary to work with bus and coach industry and other public transport operators to ensure that all necessary extra services are in place for the areas currently affected, and to plan for any further capacity required should the severe weather continue and affect other parts of the country.
The Prime Minister will chair the first meeting on Thursday. The Committee’s Terms of Reference are ‘To provide strategic ministerial oversight of policy on flood recovery and long-term resilience’.