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Community and Business Recovery Fund (Storm Desmond)

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 17 December 2015

I would like to pay tribute to the excellent work of the emergency services, the Army, local authority staff and members and the many voluntary and community organisations and residents that have done so much to help the people who have suffered as result of Storm Desmond.

I would also like to update hon. Members on the actions that the Government are taking to help communities and businesses impacted by Storm Desmond.

I am determined to get funding to areas quickly to help residents and business owners who are “rallying round” to rebuild their communities. I can confirm that county councils in Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Herefordshire have now received an initial £10.5 million payment from the community and business recovery scheme to support affected communities in those areas.

It forms the first payment from the new dedicated community and business recovery fund announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to help residents and businesses back on their feet and into their properties, Official Report, 9 December 2015, column 983.

This new fund will be managed by the councils themselves, to ensure money can go quickly to people who need it most, without facing unnecessary delays caused by red tape and bureaucracy.

Communities are coming together to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Storm Desmond. I have seen for myself both the damage and destruction caused by Storm Desmond and the way in which communities are rallying round to help each other through this difficult time.

Supporting the recovery

The Government have made clear their determination to stand squarely behind those communities hit by flooding in the wake of Storm Desmond.

The Government have confirmed that we will provide over £60 million of support. The £47 million community and business recovery scheme will:

provide local authorities with over £500 for each household affected by flooding; for example, it can be used to help people with temporary accommodation costs while they work to get them back into their homes.

provide grants of up to £5,000 for householders to protect their home from future flooding; for example, install new flood barriers, replace doors and windows with water resistant alternatives, or move electricity sockets up to a safer level.

ensure flood affected businesses that have had their trading disrupted can get back on their feet, with funding equivalent to an average of £2,500 provided to local authorities for each business affected and funding specifically provided for farmers to help restore their land.

We have offered council tax and business rate relief to those affected. As part of the recovery scheme, my Department will make funding available to enable councils to offer a 100% council tax discount to anyone who is unable to occupy their home and a 100% business rates discount for firms that have been impacted by flooding. This will be made available on at least as generous terms as in 2013-14.

We have activated the Bellwin emergency scheme and have made it simpler and easier to access, responding to local concerns. The Bellwin grant will be available at 100% above threshold. We have reduced thresholds for upper-tier authorities and allowed upper-tier authorities with responsibility for fire services to claim Bellwin on a comparable basis to standalone fire authorities for fire-related costs.