A new report from the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals that the recent winter floods caused by Storms Desmond and Eva were responsible for an estimated £250 million worth of damage. With councils expected to pick up the bill, how can they meet this cost, and what help can they expect from central government?
The cost of flooding
A survey carried out by town hall chiefs highlights that the winter floods caused damage to roads, drainage systems and bridges. The Chairman of the LGA's Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board and Leader of Wakefield Council, Councillor Peter Box, warned that local authorities were still calculating the cost, and that the true figure is likely to be even higher than £250 million.
More recently, Storm Katie hit parts of the UK over the Easter weekend with 70mph winds that uprooted trees, cut out power, disrupted rail services and caused significant damage to buildings. The LGA has stated that councils must have more government funding in order to deal with the costs caused by flooding and damage.
The proposed solutions
The 2016 Budget saw George Osborne pledge to spend an additional £700 million on flood defence funding. The LGA would like to see this money devolved to local authorities to allow them to decide how best to spend it in their communities. The Association has also called for councils to be excused from paying the landfill tax incurred when they were forced to remove approximately 1.66 tonnes of waste in the aftermath of the floods. This resulted in a bill of £2.25 million, which the LGA would prefer to see returned to councils so that it can be invested back into their local economies.
However, a government spokesman pointed out that the government has already committed an extra £130 million towards repairing infrastructure such as bridges and roads, and that councils are to have control over how this money is spent. The spokesman went on to say that the LGA had also failed to take into account the additional £700 million pledged in the Budget and the fact that this would take total flood defence funding up to a record £3 billion in total.
With the true cost of the storm damage still unknown, councils should build up their cash reserves in order to prepare for the future. Ethical Enforcement Agents such as Dukes Bailiffs can assist with the fair and transparent collection of any outstanding arrears. Speak to our Contact Centre Manager today for more information.