Flood-Hit Residents To Get Council Tax Relief

Flood-Hit Residents To Get Council Tax Relief

Around 5,000 flood-hit businesses & households in Cumbria & Lancashire are to obtain relief from council tax & business rates.

The financial assist was agreed during a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee.

Details of exactly who will qualify & how long the assist will last for have are still being worked out.

Ministers heard that the situation in the aftermath of Storm Desmond was improving with flood waters receding – yet that emergency services remained on "high alert".

The Met Office has put out a weather warning for Wednesday & says rain will be "persistent & heavy at times".

The Cobra meeting, chaired by Communities Secretary Greg Clark, heard power had been restored to all properties in Lancashire.

However around 1,000 properties are still without electricity in Cumbria.

There is anger among some people affected by the weekend's floods, with accusations Government spending on flood defences has fallen.

One Carlisle resident told Sky News that the official who designed the flood defences should put their hands up & admit failure.

Alan McDermott was speaking as insurance firms put the estimated damage from the weekend's rainfall at between £400m & £500m.

Mr McDermott said: "They said 'we couldn't cope because the volumes are unprecendented'. Well, 38 million went into this … we were here last time. It's not the first time we've experienced it & it didn't work. It just didn't work.

"It's their mistake. That's why it's flooded. There's 38 million pounds & the person who planned it needs to stand up say 'I received it wrong'.

"Because we're suffering with this. We suffered last time & we're suffering again & who's to say it's not going to happen in a month's time."

The head of the Cumbria Chambers of Commerce added to the gloom by warning that businesses repeatedly disrupted by flooding in the region could be forced to leave  to secure their financial future.

Cumbria police said on Monday that up to 6,425 properties may have been flooded, while communities in Northumberland & Lancashire were moreover badly affected.

The Prime Minister admitted on Monday that Cumbria's multimillion-pound defences – which were upgraded in 2010 to withstand a "once in 100 years" flood – "weren't enough on this occasion".

Liz Truss, the Environment Secretary, has moreover defended the Government's flood spending.

She told Sky News: "It's completely wrong that we're cutting flood defences. In fact we're increasing real term spending on building our flood defences."

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has said day-to-day spending on flood management was expected to be £695m in 2015/16, having been £811m the previous year.

The 2014/15 spending came after the Thames Valley & Somerset flooding of 2014 which prompted the PM to say there would be "no penny pinching" & "money would be no object" in dealing with damage.

But DEFRA maintains the day-to-day budget is different to the investment budget, which it says is going to increase to £2.3bn over the next six years.

PwC UK estimates the overall damage from the weekend's floods was £400-500m and, of that, the insurance industry will pay out £250-325m.

The Association of British Insurers said that at least £1bn has to be spent ever year until 2025 if Britain is to be protected from potential flood hazards.

Engineers have restored power to all yet 2,500 Lancaster homes after 40,000 people lost power again overnight with those expected to be reconnected by nightfall.

Sixteen severe flood warnings remain in place across northwest England, signalling a danger to life, & more than 80 less serious flood warnings & alerts are still active.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for rainfall across northern England & parts of Scotland, which will be in place from 6am on Wednesday to 3am on Thursday.

It says the rain will be "persistent & heavy at times",  and in some places will be accompanied by strong winds of up 60mph.

Source: “Sky News”