A report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee today calls for £20m year-on-year increases for flood defences, on top of recently announced increases.
The report says that “funding has not kept pace in recent years with an increased risk of flooding from more frequent severe weather events and the relatively modest additional sums to be provided up to 2020 will not be sufficient to plug the funding gap”
It voices doubt over whether the government’s partnership model will deliver the private sector funding for which it is hoping.
The MPs on the committee are also concerned that flood defences are so bioased towards protecting property and urban areas that there is a long-term risk to the security of UK food production as a high proportion of the most valuable agricultural land is at risk of flooding.
Launching the Managing Flood Risk report, committee chair Anne McIntosh MP said: “Record rainfall in the past two years has led to extensive flooding, cost the economy millions and caused disruption and distress to householders and communities across the UK.
“Additional capital funding for flood defences is welcome since every £1 spent on flood defences to protect communities spurs growth and delivers economic benefits worth £8.
“But spending on flood defences has not kept pace with rising risks from more frequent severe weather. The Chancellor must ensure that investment increases by £20m year on year. We need that money over the next 25 years to protect homes and businesses better. Maintenance of these defences and effective dredging of watercourses must be a priority.”
With spending on maintenance of defences and watercourses at its lowest for many years, MPs also criticise ‘short-sighted’ reductions in revenue funding that threaten to undermine the benefits of capital investment in flood defences.