Skip to main content

Flood Control: Finance

Volume 457: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the proportion of Government funding for flood defences planned to be dedicated to (a) maintenance and (b) new build of defences in 2006-07. (124712)

Defra’s current allocation of Flood Risk Grant in Aid for the Environment Agency (EA) for 2006-07 is £419 million. Of this, the EA estimates £153 million will be spent on maintenance-related activities and £196 million on the capital improvement programme, with the balance funding other activities.

Some £13 million of Defra grant will be spent by local authorities (LAs) and internal drainage boards (IDBs) on capital flood risk improvement projects.

Funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will support estimated LA expenditure of £72 million on their levies to the EA and IDBs (£23 million and £27 million respectively, some of which will be spent on capital improvement works). LA’s own spend on flood risk management operations and maintenance is estimated at £22 million.

LAs estimate spend of £66 million of Defra grant for coast protection capital improvement projects and £14 million on coastal erosion maintenance and operations supported by DCLG. Both expenditures are primarily to defend against coastal erosion but often also provide benefits against flooding from the sea.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the main headings are in the budget for flood defence spending; what budget has been allocated for each of the next three years; and what the decision-making process is for the allocation of these funds. (124860)

Defra has overall policy responsibility for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England, funds most of the Environment Agency’s (EA) flood-related work and grant-aids individual capital improvement projects undertaken by local authorities and internal drainage boards. The programme to manage risk is driven by these operating authorities within the framework of desired outcomes for the programme and investment prioritisation approach set by Defra. Defra does not carry out works directly, and nor does it direct the authorities on which specific individual projects to undertake.

Within the overall budget for flood and coastal erosion risk management, Defra allocates funding as follows, with the 2007-08 allocation in brackets:

(i) Grant in Aid to the EA for flood risk management (£435.7 million).

(ii) Funding to local authorities and internal drainage boards for capital flood risk improvement projects, channelled through the EA (£21.2 million).

(iii) Funding to local authorities for capital coast protection improvement projects (£46.1 million). These are primarily to defend against coastal erosion but often also provide benefits against flooding from the sea.

(iv) Other spend such as research and development, consultancies, Defra running costs (£6 million).

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) also provides significant support to local authorities for further expenditure on flood risk management activities through its local government funding mechanism.

Funding in 2008-09 and 2009-10 will be considered in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.

Grant in Aid for the EA, comprises of two parts. Firstly, funding transferred from DCLG to Defra which had previously been provided to the EA by local authorities via DCLG-supported levies. Since 2004 this has been provided to the EA as direct Grant in Aid from Defra.

Secondly, funding from a shared capital allocation divided between the EA, local authorities and internal drainage boards. In previous years, capital funds have been allocated using the Defra priority score system. Owing to the high level of forward commitment in 2007-08 there was only a small amount of money available to fund new works schemes. For that reason, it was decided that only certain development studies and coastal monitoring projects by local authorities and internal drainage boards helping to maintain the forward programme would receive new funding except for the works scheme at Weston-Super-Mare. Letters to the authorities setting out the detail of the 2007-08 allocation process are published on the Defra website.