At ten o’clock last night, the government announced a package of funding for flood affected homes, businesses and councils. We have yet to see the local details but there will be financial support. That includes business rate and council tax relief. Grants for small businesses to recover. Money for households to improve their flood resilience.
That will be welcomed by businesses and households. I will publish details on how to apply as soon as I get them. Given the late notice of the funding, no one knows the details yet.
If there is specific help you need right now, let us know.
Both Shropshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council will qualify for measures announced yesterday.
Households affected by floods can apply for up to £500 in financial hardship payments. They will also be eligible for 100% council tax relief for at least three months. We need to clarify the phrase “at least three”. I think six months would be better.
Businesses affected will be eligible for 100% business rates relief for at least three months. Small and medium sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) which have suffered severe, uninsurable losses will be eligible for up to £2,500 from the Business Recovery Grant.
Flood proofing. Flood-hit homes and businesses can apply for up to £5,000 to help make them more resilient to future flooding. No details are available yet from Defra.
Councils. The Bellwin Scheme, named after the 1980s environment minister Lord Bellwin, has been activated. Both Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin councils will be able to reclaim any spending above 0.2% of their revenue budget to repair roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Clearance of trees, vehicle hire, evacuation and extra staff costs are potentially covered.
There has been a lot of criticism of the absence of Boris Johnson, who is hiding away at Chevening. He has a track record of avoiding the major concerns of the day. Climate change debates. The 2011 London riots. COBRA has not been convened. That shows how little those in Westminster understand the impact of flooding in across counties a long way from London. The cross-Whitehall Flood Recovery Taskforce, which includes environment, businesses and transport ministers, will meet this week.
In the aftermath of Storm Dennis, there are media reports that ministers are considering a new Environment Agency policy which will accept flooding as an inevitable consequence of climate change. That will be the message in the forthcoming National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England. Homeowners and businesses will be told to “get used to it”. In today’s Telegraph, Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, does not deny that is government thinking.
There will be more on this when we get more information.