MPs warn of flood defence funding gap

By staff

Cuts to funding for flood defences could leave five million properties temporarily at risk, MPs have claimed.

The environment and rural affairs committee used its report out today to suggest that plans to shift the burden for funding of defences on to at-risk communities may not come quickly enough. It warned: “There is no certainty that this funding gap can be filled.”

Committee chair Anne McIntosh added: “At a time of budgetary constraints councils must give flood protection work priority since many of them will need to increase the financial contribution they make to key local flood defence projects whilst also fulfilling their new duties to lead local flood work.”

The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs is facing deep cuts as part of the spending review settlement – with critics arguing that savings are being made from cutting vital flood defences.

Issues arising from water supplies also came under the scrutiny of the committee. The MPs pointed out massive variations in water bills, with customers in the south-west of England enduring costs which are “disproportionately high due to the need for large-scale capital investment in sewage systems”.

The report called for a “national social tariff which is weighted to recognise the substantial regional variance in bills”.

Ms McIntosh suggested “urgent action” was needed on both fronts and called for new legislation from ministers “as soon as possible”.