Latest Public Sector News

17.02.14

Longer-term measures launched for flood defence

The new Cabinet Committee on Flooding met for the first time last week, to help coordinate the UK’s strategic long-term plans on flood recovery and flood resilience.

The committee agreed to review the Bellwin scheme, which provides emergency financial assistance to local authorities, as well as a targeted review of resilience of the transport network and a review of the investment decision guidelines on flood defence.

An annual resilience review will also consider local, regional and national responses to extreme weather conditions, the committee agreed.

Prime mnister David Cameron said: “While we are in the grip of this severe weather it remains the immediate priority of government, through COBR, to continue to do all that we can to help local communities who are affected and coordinate the emergency response. We are taking action across the board.

“I have already announced a series of longer-term measures to help hard-working people including new grants for homeowners and businesses to help them recover; business rate relief and a commitment from all major banks to provide financial support. This is on top of an extra £130m to shore up and repair flood defences which have been battered by the storms.

“We are doing everything we can to help people and businesses deal with the flooding and get back on their feet. And through this new Cabinet Committee we are doing all we can to ensure resilience in the future.”

Sir Bob Kerslake, permanent secretary at the DCLG and head of the civil service, wrote to council chief executives reiterating the military support available to them. He also said: “The prime minister stated that home owners without insurance who have suffered damage should be able to draw on hardship funds from their local authority. He was clear that government will support authorities who would find it difficult to meet demand for such funds.”

He added: “I recognise this has been very demanding for all involved in the flooded areas and would like to thank you for your efforts over what has now been a long period of disruption.”

He called for prominent advice to be displayed on council websites, plus 24-hour non-premium rate helplines to be available.

In England, responsibility for flood risk management is split between the Environment Agency and top-tier councils, who must prepare and maintain local strategies, keep a register of physical features that have a significant effect on flooding in their area, investigate significant local flooding incidents and publish the results, and play a lead role in emergency planning and recovery after a flood event.

District and borough councils, water and sewerage companies, internal drainage boards and highways authorities also have roles to play in other aspects of flood management.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. Andrew Matthews/ PA Wire

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