Conclusions and recommendations |
1. The current strategy for long-term expenditure
on flood protection anticipated a higher level of central government
funding than is now likely to be available.
Risk of flooding affects some 5.2 million homes and the actual
cost of flood damage is £1.1 billion and is set to rise.
The Agency assured us that during the current spending review
period planned capital expenditure would continue to be achieved
through efficiency savings and the improved use of resources.
However, it is not yet clear how the money required to maintain
and improve flood protection in the longer term will be found.
The Agency needs to publish a new long-term strategy reflecting
current funding realities in which the assumptions underlying
its plans are transparent.
2. It is unclear whether local contributions
will be sufficient to replace funding that has previously been
provided nationally. The Department has
developed an innovative approach to attracting local funding.
However, we are sceptical about how much it can rely on funding
from local sources when local authorities are facing their own
funding challenges and balancing many pressing needs. In addition,
more complex partnerships and funding agreements will mean schemes
take longer to put in place and may cost more to develop. The
Department needs to support local authorities to bring in local
partnership arrangements that are clear, transparent and not overly
3. The Department has no way of knowing whether
local flood management systems are adequate or when it should
intervene. There is no timetable for producing
local flood risk management strategies and the Department relies
on influencing local authorities through encouragement and guidance.
The Department is unable to guarantee that it will receive the
information it needs to monitor flood defences effectively and
it is unclear who is ultimately responsible for ensuring flood
defences are adequate. The Department needs to articulate what
information it will rely on to evaluate local risk management
strategies and be clear about when and where it will intervene
should local plans be inadequate. The public need to know and
understand where responsibility and accountability lie.
4. Local communities need to have confidence
in the decisions made on managing flood risk but do not always
feel involved in the decision-making process.
The Agency needs to engage with communities and other local sources
of expertise on preferred solutions, particularly as local communities
are being asked to pay more towards flood protection. The Agency
should look to improve its consultation processes so they support
more meaningful local engagement.
5. In light of speculation about the levels
of funding available to provide effective flood protection, there
is uncertainty over the future availability and affordability
of insurance cover for properties in risk areas.
The existing agreement between the Department and the insurance
industry which guarantees availability of insurance ends in 2013.
The Department is leaving it late to reach a new agreement and
this will lead to uncertainty and worry for affected households
and communities. The Government needs to reach an agreement with
the insurance industry urgently and work more closely with the
industry to ensure insurance cover is both available and affordable.