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Flood funding for councils cut by a third

Funding for councils to deal with flooding has been cut by a third, despite warnings from the National Audit Office earlier this month that half of Britain’s flood defence systems are being maintained at a “minimal level” and are like to “deteriorate faster” due to government budget cuts.

County councils and unitary authorities act as Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) and play a lead role in emergency planning and recovery after a flood event. The responsibilities also include creating flood risk management strategies, investigating the causes of significant floods and raising local awareness, according to the Local Government Association. But the £10m funding now set for 2015-16 is £5m less than in the previous year.

“This is dire,” Paul Cobbing, chief executive of the National Flood Forum, which represents community flood action groups, told the Guardian. “LLFAs are at the heart of flood risk management. They are already under-resourced and this puts flood risk management backwards at the very point when a step change forwards is needed.”

The news of the cuts comes as the Met Office’s three-month outlook indicates this winter is likely to be wetter than average.

Last winter was the wettest on record and saw extensive flood damage across the country, forcing David Cameron to reverse earlier cuts to flood defence budgets.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “The funding to LLFAs was always going to be initially higher in order to allow them to gather information on local flood risk and understand how to manage the risk. The planned reduction does not affect emergency planning and recovery funding.”

She added: “We absolutely recognise the importance of tackling flooding which is why we are investing £3.2bn in flood management and defences. This is more than ever before.”

However the NAO report released earlier this month said that spending on flood prevention is “insufficient” and has been cut by 10% in real terms over the course of this government when one off emergency funding is excluded.

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