The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has mapped neighbourhoods at the highest risk of flooding - highlighting that up to 200,000 homes are affected. It has stated that these homes will face insurance problems, when a Government agreement, obliging insurers to provide cover for the affected areas whilst flood defences are built, ends next year. Boston, Skegness and the Vale of Clwyd are the areas shown as facing the greatest risk.
The Government says that it is working with the industry to make sure the arrangement stays in place after June 2013, but the ABI seems to think that it isn't trying hard enough. ABI director Otto Thoresen said: We are frustrated with the progress of our talks with the Government on this issue and want it to look urgently at a model that would allow flood cover to remain widely available and competitively priced. No country in the world has an entirely free market providing universal affordable flood insurance, and action is needed now to avoid 200,000 high-risk homes struggling to afford cover.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said it would consider targeted support over the next few months and said that further announcements would be made in the spring. In response to the ABIs comments, the Environment Minister, Richard Benyon said: We live in difficult times, it is wrong to impose impossible burdens on the taxpayer, but we do want to make sure that insurance continues to be available for the vast majority of households. We will assist particularly households on low incomes.
Boston and Skegness head the at-risk list, with 7,550 homes facing significant risk of flooding. Next, comes the Vale of Clwyd at 7,339, followed by Folkestone and Hythe with 7,196. The ABI claims that homeowners living in lower-risk areas are currently paying higher premiums to subsidise those that don't, with those in the high-risk areas tied to the same insurer.
Meanwhile, a committee of MPs has rasied concerns about Government spending on the implementation and maintenance of flood defences. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that there was a great deal of uncertainty about whether there was enough money to improve flood defences and protection in the long term, and who would pay for it. The current bill is in the region of £1.1bn per year, and this is set to rise due to climate change. Estimates suggest that this cost will go up to between 1.5bn and 3.5bn in the 2020s. The Environment Minister said that his department was spending £2.17bn on flood prevention over the next four years & even though this was a cost cut by 6% in the spending review.
Areas facing significant flood risk
Sources: bbc.co.uk, environment-agency.gov.uk (image courtesy of Environment Agency