Government Privatises Flood Defence – Households must pay for their own

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.


2 thoughts on “Government Privatises Flood Defence – Households must pay for their own

  1. Theoretically I live in a high risk flood zone (facing the sea which is about 50 metres away. However, I am in a top floor (freehold) flat and the lowest point near me is a main road much lower than our block and nearer sea level about another 100 metres away. There is no possibility of me being flooded and, if the ground floor flat is flooded, which is unlikely, I have absolutely no liability for their damage. In the 100 years that my home has been built it has never flooded and we have a sea wall built in the 1970s that is more than adequate for the next hundred years.

    Many businesses that exist on seafronts will now have to pay much larger premiums – which may make the difference between being able to trade and having to shut up shop.

    Do you think the insurers will be able to deal with this fact? Not a hope. Once again it will be done by postcode and in such a way that insurers will benefit and householders will not. Thanks government, I shall remember this at the next election.

  2. Air brick covers and cat flap seals – is Benyon having a laugh!?

    What he should be concentrating on is the catastophic fall in house values caused by the post code allocated,”flood risk” areas on which the insurers base their desk-top surveys. These often cause house sales to drop through as many of the properties concerned are uninsurable, if they have recently flooded, or attract ridiculous premiums if they are deemed to be “at risk” (though many never have, and never will, flood – see Pandora above).

    I have a case in Worcestershire where the Council spent £3million on a flood alleviation scheme in 2007, new properties were then built with floor levels 600mm above the highest ever recorded level (before the £3million (1998) scheme was implemented, so worst case scenario) and the desk-top surveys still show the properties as “at risk of flooding”. As a consequence, some of the new properties are still for sale 5 years later and those that have sold have only done so at a much reduced price.

    Unless half of Worcestershire is under water, these properties will never flood!

    The problem here is that solicitors advise their clients based on the desk top surveys of the Insurers, and the insurers never seem to go to the trouble of updating their records – as a result, millions of pounds is wiped off house values and the owners are stuck with unsaleable properties. Funny how the insurers never seem to lose out in these situations!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s