News ID: 133900
Published: 0237 GMT December 29, 2015

UK flood costs will top £5b

UK flood costs will top £5b

The cost of the UK’s winter floods will top £5 billion and thousands of families and businesses will face financial ruin because they have inadequate or non-existent insurance, a leading accountant has warned, as the government defended its record on flood defenses.

The prime minister faced growing anger from politicians in the north of England who accused the government of creating a north-south gap in financial support for flood-prevention schemes, BBC reported.

On a tour of the region, David Cameron defended spending levels amid mounting criticism from MPs and council leaders. “We are spending more in this parliament than the last one and in the last parliament we spent more than the one before that,” he said during a stop in York.

“I think with any of these events we have to look at what we are planning to spend and think: "Do we need to do more?" We are going to spend £2.3 billion on flood defenses in this parliament but we will look at what’s happened here and see what needs to be done. We have to look at what’s happened in terms of the flooding, what flood defenses have worked and the places where they haven’t worked well enough.”

But Judith Blake, leader of Leeds city council, said a flood prevention scheme for the city was ditched by the government in 2011, and warned that there was a very strong feeling across the region that the north was being short-changed. “I think there’s a real anger growing across the north about the fact that the cuts have been made to the flood defenses and we’ll be having those conversations as soon as we are sure that people are safe and that we start the clean-up process and really begin the assess the scale of the damage.

“So there are some very serious questions for government to answer on this and we’ll be putting as much pressure on as possible to redress the balance and get the funding situation equalized so the north gets its fair share.”

Labor MP Ivan Lewis, meanwhile, challenged Cameron to back up his vision of the Northern Powerhouse by sending immediate help to residents and businesses in his Bury South constituency.

In a letter to the prime minister he wrote: “The chancellor speaks often of the Northern Powerhouse, yet in Bury and across greater Manchester our basic level of funding to support local services is being slashed.

“This crisis gives you an opportunity to show that you will apply your previous commitment of whatever it takes to supporting our communities at this crucial time.”

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