The Guardian reports that at a conference this week the flooding minister Richard Benyon has announced that the government will not renew the Statement of Principles that ensures that cover is renewed in the most at risk area (1 in 75 or more) if flood defences are planned within 5 years. The quid pro qou with the last government was of course significant investment in flood defences – so this is just a cover for cuts. The Minister has stated that it did not cover most households, but this is disingenuous as it was only ever intended to guarantee insurance to those who would otherwise have greatest difficulty in obtaining it.
The insurance industry believes the government has now reneged on its part of the deal and consequently it does not want to continue with the agreement, a situation that leaves thousands of households at risk of becoming uninsured by next summer.
Benyon said households should instead be encouraged to invest in their own flood defences, including the installation of air brick covers, non-return valves and seals for cat flaps.
Gavin Shuker, the shadow minister for water and waste, said: “‘This Tory-led government is playing Russian roulette with people’s homes and livelihoods. …Ultimately, catastrophic risk resides with us all – a denial of this basic political principle is like trying to deny gravity. It is short-sightedness of the worst kind. We need leadership from government in ensuring the flood investment is made, and to put in place a framework that will ensure high-risk homes are able to access the protection they need.”
The answer surely is to provide a national insurance scheme for natural hazards, funded by a levy on all property insurance, as in the States, France and the Netherlands.