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MP questions Government’s commitment to flood prevention in his first question as Shadow Minister

The MP for Leeds North West, Alex Sobel, asks his first question in Parliament as the new Shadow Minister in charge of flooding.

Speaking in the House of Commons on December 9, Alex said, “on Boxing day 2015, many town and city centres were devastated by floods, but spending on national flood defences is, in fact, 10% down on what it was in 2015.”

He asked the Secretary of State for DEFRA, George Eustice, how the Government will ensure residential and business properties are protected from flooding this winter. The Secretary of State replied, “We have made available £5.2 billion, and this is a significant increase in the capital programme over the next few years.

Included in that is some dedicated work on property resilience, where we are working with communities and flood forums locally to identify how we can improve the resilience of individual properties and, when there is a flood incident, to make grants available to them so that they can replace some of their doors in order to be more flood-ready in future.”

In a statement following his question, Alex said, In England, over 5.2 million homes and businesses are at risk from flooding. I am pleased that, after many delays and two major flooding incidents, the Otley Flood Alleviation scheme has now completed, bringing the town’s flood risk from 20% to a little over 4%.

However, there are still significant problems. As the Met Office has found, due to climate change, the UK is getting wetter. This means extreme weather events are becoming more and more likely. Yet nationally, flood response funding has been cut while fire and rescue services have lost more than 11,000 workers since 2010. I welcome the £5.2 billion over the next five years, but there is no obvious plan or indication of how or where that money will be spent.

He continued, “we need a flood preparedness taskforce that includes regional leaders and frontline services to ensure communities in England are protected from the combined dangers of flooding and Covid this winter. The Government must also come clean on the distribution of the grants promised to those whose homes and businesses were affected by floods – some may not receive funds for more than 2 years.

He finishes, “the devastation of Boxing Day 2015 was avoidable. The flooding that has happened since then was avoidable. With the right plan, future flooding events are avoidable too”


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