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Volume 400: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial assistance is available to councils in which areas are flooded in 2003. [98286]

I have been asked to reply.The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has in place financial arrangements known as the Bellwin Scheme to assist Local Authorities, including police and fire authorities, in England in emergencies. (In Wales these arrangements are dealt with by the National Assembly for Wales which operates similar arrangements). Assistance is available to authorities to help with uninsurable clear-up costs following a disaster or emergency in their area which involves destruction of, or danger to, life or property. In March last year the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister wrote to all authorities reminding them of the existence of the scheme and advising them how to go about getting assistance under it.Under this scheme authorities are themselves responsible for the first tranche of expenditure on emergency work. The amount each authority affected will be expected to find is just 0.2 per cent. of its annual budget. Expenditure above that will be eligible for 85 per cent. assistance from Government.