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Volume 587: debated on Thursday 30 October 2014

The Government have committed around £560 million to support those affected by flooding last winter. That includes an extra £270 million to repair and maintain critical flood defences. We are helping households and businesses through the repair and renew grant and through council tax and rates relief. Farmers and fishermen are receiving funding for repairs through existing schemes and we are supporting businesses through a £10 million hardship fund.

After Eton flooded in February, the Prime Minister promised that money would be no object. However, for many Hull homes and businesses hit by the December tidal surge, that soon changed to “Out of sight, out of mind,” and they are still awaiting help. Can the Minister tell me what percentage of the promised assistance to flood-hit communities has actually gone to those affected?

As I set out to the hon. Lady, there are a number of schemes in place. Some are still paying out and will do so until the end of the financial year. If she has particular concerns about issues in her part of the world, I would be happy to meet her, as ever, to discuss them, but those schemes are available to all those affected by flooding during the period of extreme weather from early December last year through to the end of April.

More homes were flooded in 2012-13 across the Yorkshire region, so I hope the Minister might meet a delegation of Yorkshire MPs to consider how our roads and bridges might best be recovered. What progress has been made with the Treasury on having one fund—one budget—between capital expenditure and revenue expenditure for total expenditure on flood spending? That would help communities to recover more quickly and end the senseless rows about the size of the pump and which budget it should come from.

I thank the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee for her question, raising issues to do with transport recovery, which have been well supported by the Department for Transport. I encourage my hon. Friend and other colleagues from Yorkshire to continue to discuss that with Ministers from that Department. On the distribution of the maintenance, revenue and capital money that we have invested in flood defences and coastal risk management—a record amount of money—we continue to discuss with the Treasury whether flexibilities might be helpful in this regard. The Select Committee’s work has been of great help.

My constituents in Morpeth and Hepscott remain extremely concerned about the future of flood risk insurance. Will the Minister update us on where the Government are in discussions with the insurance companies?

The hon. Gentleman’s part of the world has seen investment in flood schemes to help protect communities and keep them safe, and I understand that that work is coming to a conclusion. On flood insurance, we continue to make progress, along with the Association of British Insurers, to set up Flood Re, a new organisation that will provide affordable flood insurance to those not provided for in the market. We are on track to implement that next year.

Like the hon. Member for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery), I have constituents living in flood-risk areas who are struggling to get reasonably priced flood or household insurance. Is there a date by which the insurance companies will offer the new support for which we are looking, and, in the meantime, should they not be a little bit more flexible with constituents living in these areas?

I am happy to discuss with my hon. Friend any specific issues he has on behalf of his constituency. The statement of principles, which exists with the insurance industry, is still in operation up until the implementation of Flood Re. We of course have regular discussions with the industry to ensure that people are being offered the flood insurance they need.

The answer to the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson), which the Minister failed to give, is £403,000 out of the £10 million that the Government promised—less than 5%. That applied at the beginning of the summer recess. Tomorrow is 31 October, the day on which the Government promised that all the 890 flood defences damaged last year and in need of urgent repair would have that work completed. Will the Minister assure us that the 49% of those repairs that had not been completed by last month will be finished by tomorrow, as promised? The people at risk from those 437 unfinished schemes would really like to know.

The hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware that work has continued since that reference point in September. The vast majority of those schemes will be completed by the end of the month, and temporary defences are in place to protect any communities where the work is still ongoing into November. The vast majority will be completed by the end of this month.