An influential group of MPs has warned that the government is ‘simply not doing enough’ to protect homes from floods or preventing more being built on flood plains.
A new report by the public accounts committee warns that despite the obvious risks, the number of new houses built on flood plains could rise by more than 50% over the next 50 years.
In particular, it says the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has not ensured that all regions, deprived areas in particular, get a fair share of the available funding.
It found the Environment Agency’s own research in 2020 shows that deprived areas are more at risk from flooding, yet the proportion of all homes ‘better protected’ that were in the 20% most deprived areas dropped from 29% in 2014 to just 8% in 2019.
The report states there is also significant variation in the level of flood defence investment per property at risk across regions.
And the MPs said they were ‘not convinced’ that Defra has yet done enough to address the difficulties those recently flooded have in getting affordable insurance.
The department’s own research, following the floods in Doncaster in November 2019, suggests that some people were still unable to obtain affordable insurance.
The report found there also remain obstacles, and a lack of incentives, for households to take up property-level flood resilience measures such as installing flood barriers and doors.
Such measures can reduce the damage and recovery time after a flood and could help people to get affordable insurance.
‘You can see the next major housing and building regulations scandal brewing here,’ said committee chair, Meg Hillier.
‘The government is simply not doing enough to protect the UK’s current housing stock from floods or stepping in to prevent new homes being built on flood plains, and more needs to be done to tackle the prohibitive home insurance costs that result.’
In response, a government spokesperson said: ‘As the report recognises, we are investing a record £5.2bn in 2,000 new flood and coastal defences between 2021-27, better protecting 336,000 properties and building on the significant progress already made to respond to climate change.
‘We are making sure support is targeted where it is needed most with households in the most deprived areas of England qualifying for funding at over twice the rate of the least deprived areas. We are also consulting on changes to Flood Re, to increase the availability and affordability of flood insurance for homes affected by flooding.’
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