Poorer areas especially underprepared for changing flood risk, report says

Floods ‘one of the most serious climate-related risks’ for country, author says

Zoe Tidman
Wednesday 05 January 2022 18:07
<p>The Environment Agency has warned the climate crisis is worsening the risk of flooding</p>

The Environment Agency has warned the climate crisis is worsening the risk of flooding

Poorer areas of Britain are especially underprepared for the changing flood threat that its homes and businesses are facing, a new report has warned.

Its author said flooding was “one of the most serious climate-related risks” for the country.

It comes after the UK was hit by several bouts of bad flooding last year, which damaged homes and forced thousands to evacuate properties.

The new report by liberal Tory think-tank Bright Blue says flooding was an issue for the government’s “levelling up” agenda.

“There are many households, businesses and communities across the country, especially in poorer areas, which are simply underprepared for the changing flood risk they face,” Helen Jackson, environment economist and report author, wrote.

She also mentioned findings from a parliamentary committee last year, which said there had been “a significant decline in the proportion of flood investment going to deprived areas since 2014”.

Ms Jackson wrote: “We need to move away from an old concept of flooding - an unfortunate event affecting individual properties which by and large fully recover via insurance - and recognise the potential compounding impacts of repeat flooding on communities’ economic welfare over the longer term.”

Last year, England’s Environment Agency warned the climate crisis - which leads to heavier rainfall and rising sea levels - was worsening the risk of floods across the UK.

It also estimated two thirds of residents in areas at risk of flooding did not believe it would happen to them.

In her report, Ms Jackson said people also sometimes do not realise they are responsible for their own property-level flood defences, or may not be aware their property insurance is cheap because it does not include flood cover.

“Low financial resilience through lack of insurance and other financial impacts from flooding has the potential to impede the economic recovery and development of the community as a whole in the long term,” she said.

The government has allocated £5.2bn towards better protecting homes and businesses from flooding and coastal erosion over the next six years. The scheme is estimated to bolster defences for more than 300,000 properties.

Earlier this week, the Environmental Agency’s chair said it could become too expensive to protect homes at risk of flooding or coastal erosion due to the impacts of the climate crisis.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson said: “The government is investing a record £5.2bn between 2021-27, creating around 2,000 new flood and coastal defences to better protect 336,000 properties across England.”

They said the department’s long-term policy statement on flood and coastal erosion risk management would ensure the UK is “more resilient to flooding, coastal erosion and climate change in the future”.

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