Manual reveals unfair bias towards London and the south-east
HUNDREDS of millions of taxpayers’ cash allocated for improving flood defences is biased towards wealthier areas such as London and parts of south-east England, research revealed yesterday.
The flood defence spending allocation system is based on the value of property to be defended — and, as property prices in London and south-east England are higher than anywhere else in Britain, that region benefits most.
The bias was revealed in the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management manual, which advises appraisers on how to assess flood defence schemes.
It has prompted calls for a fairer system to protect poorer households from floods, which are predicted to increase through climate change.
Treasury guidelines also require appraisers to “cap” the value of damages expected so they do not exceed a property’s market value — and the cap will be highest in London and south-east England.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said it seemed the funding formula was not “fit for purpose.”
She said: “Whether you are rich or poor having your home damaged by flooding is devastating — and a postcode lottery to decide who gets protection simply isn’t fair.
“It’s simply wrong for richer areas to get more protection than poorer ones.
“The government should urgently review this policy.”
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “All communities at risk of flooding must be adequately defended.
“As climate change worsens extreme weather, communities have every right to press the government for a fairer approach to protect their families, homes and livelihoods.”
An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We invest in flood defences where the risk is highest, wherever it is across the country and wherever it will benefit the most people and property.”
He there was a “weighting” system for regional economic differences.
Last year the Tory government cut flood defence spending by £116 million — to £695m — despite ex-PM David Cameron saying in 2013 that money was no object during the last major floods. Rainfall this winter is expected to be up to 30 per cent higher than last winter.
One of the areas worst-hit by last year’s Boxing Day floods was the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, where 200 people are still unable to return to their homes because of flood damage.