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Flooding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:04 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Neil Hudson Neil Hudson Conservative, Penrith and The Border 3:04 pm, 4th March 2020

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. I was delighted to be appointed to the Committee and it is very welcome that it is going ahead with that inquiry. It is important that we work across parties on these issues to deliver the best for the whole country.

Members have talked about the impact of flooding across the country on individual communities, not least the financial implications. Members also touched on indirect consequences, and one issue that I would particularly like to mention is the mental health of our constituents. These episodes are traumatic. There is also anxiety and stress for constituents who are waiting nervously, wondering whether it is going to happen to them. We underestimate the mental health implications of flooding for young people, as well as for old people. Kids have their schools closed and they then worry about their mums and dads, who are worried about whether their homes will be flooded. We can work together on a cross-party basis to deliver help on mental health.

Many Members have touched on how the funding system may need to be reviewed and I welcome those comments. We need to consider how flood schemes are funded, their criteria and what communities will be protected. I would like to bang the drum for volunteer groups. Many do not have a funding source. Some are charities and they have to apply for funding. I would like the Government to look at whether funding sources are applicable to volunteer groups, so that they can apply for and receive funding. I have seen what volunteer groups do on the ground and they need to be funded. They need not just short-term grants, but grants for up to three years to give them the continuity of support that they need. That is really important.

Members on both sides of the House have talked about insurance schemes. I welcome the review of the Flood Re scheme. The scheme is welcome, but I reiterate points that have been made about making small businesses eligible for it. That would be an important step forward. We must also look at the eligibility criteria in relation to how recently homes have been built.

Finally, I would like to talk a little bit about uptake and flood resilience at an individual household level, and what measures the Government can take to encourage people to make their properties more resilient. They could not only encourage, but perhaps incentivise and even enforce, landlords to introduce flood protection schemes in their premises, especially where those landlords do not occupy the buildings and it is tenants who are vulnerable. If not every premises in a bank of houses is protected, the water will get in, and I would like people to think about that.

I again congratulate the Opposition on bringing forward the debate. Obviously there is an element of politics to it, but I have been reassured this afternoon that there is a lot of cross-party consensus about these important issues. It is important that we try to work together on that basis to deliver the best for the people of the United Kingdom.