I wish to provide a further update for the House on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s work on flood recovery including the £7 million severe weather recovery scheme that I announced in my statement of 17 January, Official Report, column 33WS.
The severe weather recovery scheme will support and speed recovery in affected areas by helping to bridge the gaps between costs covered by the Bellwin scheme, insurance and existing central and local government obligations and programmes, including the £3.4 billion the Department for Transport is already providing to English local authorities—outside London—for highways maintenance from 2011-15. It is jointly funded by my Department and the Department for Transport.
Today, the full details of the severe weather recovery scheme have been published on the gov.uk website and the scheme is now open for local authorities to make an application. The deadline for submitting claims to this scheme is 19 February 2014.
I would like to provide the House with some further details of the scheme. We want to be able to give local authorities the flexibility to use the money as they see fit, so the funding will be distributed through a grant paid under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003.
The Department for Communities and Local Government element of the scheme will provide additional support to local authorities where they have incurred, or will incur, costs on supporting their communities during the recovery phase following the east coast tidal surge and the more recent severe weather. Qualifying activities may include one or more of the following: offering council tax discounts; providing assistance for long-term displaced households; placing households in temporary accommodation; support payments to flood affected households; the purchase or provision of new household items for those affected; provision of temporary caravans; use of rest centres; and tourism impacts.
The Department for Transport element is a capital grant scheme and the funding will be distributed by formula to those local highway authorities who can clearly demonstrate that they have suffered damage to their local highway assets.
Full details of the scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/severe-weather-recovery-scheme
We are considering the response and recovery support needs for the Somerset local authorities separately.
Furthermore, I would like to inform the House that I am chairing a series of round-table discussions with local authority leaders from impacted authorities. To date I have met with leaders from East Anglia, Kent, Yorkshire, authorities in the south of England and the Thames valley and over the next few weeks I intend to meet with leaders from the north of England, the west country and Somerset. I will also be meeting with members of the voluntary community sector to understand the contribution they make to a multi-agency response in these circumstances. My Department will make further announcements in due course.