Defra concedes flood defence figures were inaccurate: Spending falls from £2.37bn to £2.34bn under the Coalition despite repeated claims to the contrary

Environment Secretary and Prime Minister accused of misleading Parliament and the public

Government investment on flood defences has in fact gone down under the Coalition despite repeated claims that it had risen to record levels, ministers were forced to concede.

Dan Rogerson, the Environment minister, said that spending had fallen to £2.34bn in the current four-year period, compared to £2.37bn over the previous four-year period.

“Floods funding is complex, with a number of different income streams including government funding, local levies, and other contributions,” he said. “Further analysis has identified some minor inconsistencies in figures previously provided. I regret this was not presented in a consistent way, something I have now rectified,” he said.

The Government has insisted throughout the recent flooding that it is spending more than any other administration on flood defence.

David Cameron told Commons earlier this month: “In this current four-year period we are spending £2.3bn, compared with £2.1bn in the previous period.”

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, had also previously claimed the coalition was spending “more on flood defences than any previous government”.

The spending disclosure came as the Environment Agency issued 36 flood warnings, mostly in the south-east and south-west of England, meaning that flooding is expected and advising immediate action.

Flooding severely restricted road and rail services for commuters in the south-east today, preventing trains from travelling between London’s Victoria station and Brighton, as well as closing the A23 in Sussex between Bolney and Pease Pottage.

When previously challenged on the accuracy of his flood budget claims at an RSA event by Friends of the Earth member Guy Shrubsole, Mr Paterson had rebuked the campaigner, saying: “Don’t shake your head – that’s a fact. We’ve actually increased the flood budgets quite significantly. I’m afraid you can’t shake your head, I’m giving you the facts.

“If we’re going to have a dialogue, I’m giving you a fact, you look me in the eye, you look at the records, you’ve got to respect that I’m giving you the truth.”

Mr Shrubsole said: “Owen Paterson’s own department has now been forced to admit it has cut flood defence spending, despite claims to the contrary by the beleaguered Environment Secretary. On the basis of these figures, it appears both Mr Paterson and the Prime Minister have misled Parliament and the public.”

Only if ministers include a further £148m in partnership funding can the Government claim it is spending more than Labour on floods.

A spokesman for Mr Paterson said: “The corrections do not change the headline figure, which is that we are currently spending £2.3bn and that, along with the £148m of contributions from partners, is more than was spent in the previous spending review period.”

But the Shadow Environment Secretary, Maria Eagle, said: “The Government should stop including money [in its figures] that they hope to attract from external contributions but have so far failed to secure.”

The admission is the second time this week that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has revealed significant inaccuracies in its statistics, after revealing on Wednesday that an IT malfunction meant it may have greatly exaggerated the number of cattle herds infected with tuberculosis since September 2011.

This led to an exaggeration of the number of herds infected and raised the “possibility” that the crucial incidence rate – that measures the rate of new infections, which had been cited as a reason for the badger cull to be carried out – may also have been miscalculated.

Defra stressed, however, that no cows had been unnecessarily slaughtered and that it did not undermine the case for its controversial badger cull.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz