50m-Flood-Fund

£50m flood fund pledged for victims of Storm Desmond

As reported by the BBC, George Osborne has announced a £50m fund for families and businesses hit by floods in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Each family would be able to claim up to £5,000 to protect their homes from future damage, the chancellor told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Funding would be administered by local authorities to avoid delays, he added.

Mr Osborne was responding to shadow first secretary of state Angela Eagle’s request for a guarantee that those affected would receive help quickly.

She said only 15% of those affected by last winter’s floods had received promised financial assistance.

As part of the announcement, the Scottish government will be given almost £4m to help communities affected by flooding caused by Storm Desmond.

It comes after it was announced that about 5,000 homes and businesses hit by floods in Cumbria and Lancashire would be given temporary relief from their council tax and business rates.

A severe flood warning, indicating danger to life, is still in place for the village of St Michael’s, near the River Wyre in Lancashire, with heavy rain expected later.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for north-west England and Scotland, with up to 80mm of rain predicted in parts and winds of up to 70mph.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss has chaired the latest emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the floods in Cumbria.

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young says the focus of efforts now is on infrastructure, including surveying bridges and roads to make sure they are safe.

The deluge brought by Storm Desmond began on 4 December, flooding thousands of homes in Cumbria and Lancashire and causing widespread damage and power cuts.

In an update on the situation, Mr Osborne said power had been restored to 168,000 homes after record rainfall and the West Coast mainline was running again.

He said the level of damage to the infrastructure, roads and existing flood defences in parts of Cumbria and Lancashire was currently being assessed, and funds would be made available.

The Treasury said £500 would be offered to homeowners in need of temporary accommodation and a grant of up to £5,000 would be available to pay for barriers, waterproof doors and higher electrical sockets to protect their home in the future.

Businesses would be offered up to £2,500 to help them to resume trading.

Communities and Local Government secretary Greg Clark said the money would go to local householders and “get back to the businesses as they need it so they can get back trading and be open for Christmas”.

The Environment Agency will be given £10m to repair flood defences damaged by the rain.

In a further announcement at PMQs, Mr Osborne, who was standing in for David Cameron, said the government would match up to £1m collected by the Cumbria Community Foundation to help recovery from the floods.

So far more than £600,000 has been raised.

Conservative Carlisle MP John Stevenson said the charity would help people “right across the county”.

Clean-ups have begun in Carlisle, Keswick and Cockermouth but the Environment Agency said flood warnings may be reissued for those areas, as well as Appleby and Kendal.

Cumbria Constabulary has issued a leaflet advising people recovering from the floods, including a warning about being aware of “bogus or suspicious” tradesmen.

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