Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Tahir Ali Tahir Ali Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green 3:41 pm, 4th March 2020

In my own constituency, several hundred properties and businesses have been affected by flood risks and the flooding of the River Cole. Action to prevent flooding has been hit by years of Conservative cuts to flood defence spending. The Environment Agency, the emergency services and local authorities all play a significant role in managing and responding to flood risk, but insufficient funds are being spent on protecting the most vulnerable communities from flooding and the consequences of extreme weather. Ministers must urgently fund the schemes that these communities say they need, as well as putting in place longer-term flood prevention strategies with appropriate bodies to prevent flooding and to protect homes and businesses.

Many households cannot afford to meet their insurance premiums, which have skyrocketed, and a recent study showed that 20,000 homes that are not protected by the Government’s insurance scheme are also not protected by flood defences. Can the Minister confirm what discussions have been held with the insurance companies? Will the Government commit to making funding available to homeowners who find themselves unable to claim on their own insurance policies?

One of the businesses in my constituency put £50,000 of its own funding towards flood defences. Despite that, it still suffered losses of over £500,000. In some cases—in fact, in most cases—only two sandbags were provided to households, although six to eight are recommended by the Environment Agency. We need to tackle flood damage and flood risk as a matter of urgency and priority. That can be done only with appropriate levels of funding going to the Environment Agency, local authorities and the emergency services, so will the Minister commit to these funds being put in place to ensure that no homes or businesses suffer unnecessarily from floods? In my own constituency it is the River Cole that needs flood defences to be put in place.