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Floods: Effect on Businesses

Volume 605: debated on Tuesday 2 February 2016

We have made £50 million available to support flood recovery across the north of England following Storms Desmond and Eva, and we have already allocated £11 million to local authorities to support the 4,500 businesses impacted. Local areas also have the discretion to provide grants to any local businesses that have been affected.

Floods have an impact on the entire local business community, which is calling for more support. At my business flood meeting in York, it called for a business recovery package, including help to maintain a customer base and to trade expediently. Will the Secretary of State look into that, and will he attend a roundtable with flood victims so that a full business recovery package can be put in place for the entire business community, not just businesses that were flooded?

The hon. Lady is right to raise this matter. Many businesses have been affected, and when something like this happens it affects the whole community. We are already looking into that. She will know that the money already made available can be used to support businesses in creative ways. On top of that, there is a £2,500 grant to help all businesses affected, and they can apply for a further £5,000.

A large number of businesses in Carlisle were affected by the floods. However, they affected not just businesses but the rugby club, the squash club, the tennis club and the cricket club in my constituency. Will the Secretary of State look at providing support for those organisations as well as for businesses?

My hon. Friend makes an important point about how such a disaster can affect the whole community, and he gives some excellent examples of that. Money has been made available to local authorities to provide such support for both businesses and others, and I will look further at the suggestions he makes.

The Association of British Insurers puts the average cost of flood damage at £50,000 per business property, yet the average pay-out under the repair and review scheme has been just £1,666. That is well down on the £5,000 promised, with many businesses yet to receive a penny. In an Adjournment debate last week, we heard about the damage caused in Leeds during the last Parliament and the promises that have not been kept in relation to that. Will the Secretary of State make sure that the Prime Minister keeps his word that “money is no object” when it comes to support for businesses that have been hit hard by the recent floods?

Of course the Prime Minister will keep his word. It is partly for that reason that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster recently met the Association of British Insurers to discuss this issue, understand the scale of the problem and find out what more can be done. BIS officials have also met the ABI, which will make a difference. The hon. Gentleman may also be interested to know that, in the Enterprise Bill, we will bring forward measures later today to make sure that all businesses are paid on time by insurance companies.

Many of the businesses in my constituency that were flooded are lessees and do not own their own property. They would like to avail themselves of the generous support available from the Government, but landlords may not want to engage with that system. I know one particular landlord who is not interested in Government support. What support can the Government offer to lessee businesses that are looking to them for such help?

My hon. Friend is right. In such circumstances, those businesses should of course be helped as well. We know that many of them are already applying directly to councils, to which we have provided funding. They are eligible for the £2,500 grant, and they can apply for the further grant of £5,000. They will also benefit from the three-month business rate holiday.