This morning I will be visiting some of those families whose lives have been affected by the weekend’s devastating floods. My sympathy goes out to everyone whose homes have been flooded, are still without power or are suffering the effects of the unprecedented weather.
I’m here to make sure we continue to give all the help we can to get people back to their homes as soon as possible.
The Environment Agency is working to pump out flood waters as soon as river levels allow and I’d like to thank the countless people who have been, and still are, working round the clock to help everyone affected. We are seeing their efforts bring results as power is restored to many homes and with some rail lines beginning to re-open.
This area had the heaviest rain this country has ever recorded, with some river levels rising half a metre higher than the previous record. The flood defences, which were built to the best available models have protected more than 8,600 homes but in light of this weekend’s weather we will look again at the way we model extreme weather events.
As a Government we have made flood defences a priority. The 6 year £2.3 billion investment in new flood defences will protect an additional 300,000 homes and reduce flood risk. The £2.3 billion is a real terms increase on last Parliament’s £1.7 billion investment, which itself was a real terms increase on the £1.5 billion spent during the previous Parliament. The Chancellor also announced in the Autumn Statement that flood maintenance funding will be protected in real terms until 2020.
The insurance industry is responding with help for homeowners and yesterday I told Parliament that we will be opening the Bellwin scheme for local authorities affected by floods, and that 100% of eligible costs will be met by the Government. We will be announcing further schemes to help people over the coming days.
With flood alerts and warnings still in place for many areas of the North of England, we are working closely with authorities on the ground to ensure local emergency responders have everything they need should there be further bad weather. I urge everyone to take care and keep an eye on the EA’s website and Twitter for the latest information.