Given the additional £120 million made available to the Environment Agency for flood defence repairs within the Budget and the existing Bellwin arrangements for local authorities, IDBs are currently the only Risk Management Authorities without a mechanism for emergency financial assistance from Government following this winter’s flooding.
ADA wrote to Defra to seek financial assistance for those IDB affected by flood events before Christmas, and we have since gathered and passed on to Defra information about the consequential financial impact they faced.
This work identified that 12 IDBs had experienced flooding within their districts as a result, wholly or in part, of overtopping, seepage and breeches from main rivers between October and December 2019. These IDBs had collectively incurred a total estimated cost of ~£675,000, predominantly as a result of increased pumping costs (electricity/diesel) and their workforce undertaking repairs, and providing physical assistance to the Environment Agency, and emergency services. A further two IDBs that experienced no or limited flooding, identified substantially increased pump costs in the autumn/winter of 2019, totalling costs of ~£500,000.
It is clear that a number of IDBs have been substantially impacted by flooding from main river systems in the past year, with costs representing a significant proportion of their annual turnover. Following the Wainfleet flood event in June 2019, which was triggered by a breach to an embanked main river, the two local IDBs were able to receive £60,000 towards their emergency costs via a local authority’s Bellwin settlement.
However, currently where claims through Bellwin are not available to an IDB, there remains a lack of an agreed mechanism for IDBs to seek and receive emergency recovery funding. The EA has been exploring options for utilising PSCA arrangements, Local Levy funds, or amending Precept or Highland Water contributions in some cases. However, ADA believes that Defra should consider a suitable and proportionate mechanism for assisting IDBs in these circumstances that would be applicable following both recent and future emergency events. Critically, such a mechanisms should not disadvantage other Risk Management Authorities’ funding.