Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions
Caroline Spelman (Secretary of State, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Meriden, Conservative)
We would all like to spend more money on flood defences—there is a very good return on investment: for every £1 of taxpayers’ money spent, there is an £8 return—but the reality of the situation is that the Labour party left the nation’s finances in a very bad state. When in government, the hon. Gentleman’s party indicated that it would cut capital by 50%. In the circumstances, therefore, he should see a 6% reduction as a significant improvement on what his party pledged.
In addition, I could not underline more the importance of the new approach to funding flood defences, which is to encourage partnership funding to bring in extra resources, so that more homes can be protected. In its first year, partnership funding has brought in an extra £72 million—much of that from local government. That means we will exceed our aim to protect better at least 145,000 more homes in the lifetime of this Parliament.