A £500,000 funding package to help make vulnerable homes more resilient to the threat of flooding was announced by Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Ian Pearson today.
Mr Pearson, speaking to a workshop on flood resilience hosted by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in London, said that the funding supported the first phase of a pilot grant scheme for vulnerable households, which would be under increased threat as climate change increased the risk of flooding to low-lying areas of the UK.
Currently, around 470,000 properties in England and Wales are at risk of flooding, including 393,000 homes - this is likely to rise as the effects of climate change increase.
The funding will help to provide effective measures against flooding for vulnerable properties in England. These may include measures to stop water getting into the home, such as temporary door-guards or waterproof render, or to reduce damage if water does enter the home, such as water-resistant walls and floors or raising electrics.
Mr Pearson said:
"With climate change, it's more important than ever that householders know about, understand and can access the options that are available to them to help minimise the damage that can be caused by flooding.
"Providing better information and advice for householders on how to respond to flood risk is an important part of our strategy to reduce flood risk to people and property. We want to continue to work with the insurance industry to ensure that people have the guidance they need to make informed choices about incorporating flood management measures in their homes.
"In addition, the pilot grant scheme I have announced today will help some of the most vulnerable households put flood resilience measures in place."
The pilot study will also look at the practical issues surrounding flood resilience in much more detail, including possible barriers in the existing market such as costs to customers, and how we can provide better information and advice to help householders make more informed choices.
The pilot scheme forms part of the Government's work to take forward its strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management, Making Space for Water, including better resilience and resistance for buildings and emergency infrastructure, and improved stakeholder and community engagement.
The payments under the pilot scheme will be capped at £5,000 per property. Areas for the first phase of the pilot scheme are identified based on the Environment Agency's local analysis of flood risk, and knowledge of where technical or other practical issues mean conventional community defences are not a viable solution. Mr Pearson asked anyone interested to suggest other areas that might benefit from the second phase of the grant scheme.
ABI Head of Property Insurances, Jane Milne, said :
"Flood risk has always been significant in the UK, but climate change will make it make much worse over the next 30 to 40 years.
"Insurers support this initiative to reduce the misery and cost of flooding affecting communities where conventional approaches are not feasible.
"More use of flood resilience measures and more investment in flood defences will enable flood insurance to continue to be widely available."
Defra today published the results of a scoping study on flood resilience called Flood resistance and Resilience Solutions: an R & D Scoping Study - prepared by an independent flood management expert. This broadly determines the suitability and cost effectiveness of a variety of flood resistance and resilience measures - such as temporary flood gates, water resistant floors and wall coverings at property level - especially those that could be supported through a potential pilot grant scheme.
New research will begin shortly to examine in more detail the benefits of resilience for different types of flood events and the social barriers to adoption of flood resilience.