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Bellwin Scheme changes to help councils with flooding damage

More support will be made available for local areas damaged by severe weather and flooding, the government has announced, including an extra £100m announced by the government yesterday to repair flood defences.

Changes to the terms of the Bellwin Scheme will help local authorities to meet the immediate costs associated with protecting lives and properties. The changes will ensure the grant is paid at 100% above the threshold instead of 85%; extend the eligible spending period until the end of March; reduce the thresholds for all county councils and unitary authorities; and allow upper tier authorities with responsibility for fire services to claim from the Bellwin Scheme on a comparable basis to standalone fire authorities for fire-related costs.

A six-week cross-government action plan will also be developed to provide a longer-term solution to the issues with flooding on the Somerset Levels.

Communities minister Brandon Lewis said: “We are determined to support those councils on the front line working hard to protect their communities and ensure local authorities have the confidence to provide the help needed in the knowledge that funds are available to meet costs.

“In the longer term the government is committed to undertaking a review of the scheme to see if any changes are needed in the way the scheme operates, in light of more frequent and challenging storms.

“The government is putting in place a separate recovery package, specifically for the Somerset Levels, to take account of the particularly severe and ongoing flooding they are experiencing.”

Speaking after an emergency COBR meeting, the Prime Minister said: “I have seen the shocking pictures of the destroyed train line in Dawlish and I am determined that while it is out of action, the public get a proper alternative service and a solution is found to fix it, as soon as possible. The government will continue to hold emergency COBR meetings to ensure these problems are sorted out.

“In Somerset, the Environment Agency continues to pump 3 million tonnes of water a day off the Levels alongside high velocity pumps provided by the fire and rescue service. But no amount of pumping will solve the current problem completely because the land is so saturated, so dredging will start as soon as the waters have receded enough for it to be safe to do so.

“We need a long-term solution, so earlier today I announced a further £100m to repair and maintain those flood defences which have taken such a battering, while protecting 165,000 homes in recent weeks, in addition to a record £2.4bn being spent by this government.”

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