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.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam