I would like to pay tribute to the excellent work of the emergency services, the army, local authority staff and members and the many voluntary and community organisations and residents that have done so much to help the people who have suffered as result of Storm Desmond.
I would also like to update Hon Members on the actions that the Government is taking to help communities and businesses impacted by Storm Desmond.
I am determined to get funding to areas quickly to help residents and business owners who are “rallying around” to rebuild their communities. I can confirm that County Councils in Cumbria, Lancashire, Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Herefordshire have now received an initial £10.5 million payment from the Community and Business Recovery Scheme to support affected communities in those areas.
It forms the first payment from the new dedicated Community and Business Recovery fund announced by my rt Hon Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to help residents and businesses back on their feet and into their properties (Official Report, 9 December 2015, column 983).
This new fund will be managed by the councils themselves, to ensure money can go quickly to people who need it most, without facing unnecessary delays caused by red tape and bureaucracy.
Communities are coming together to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Storm Desmond. I have seen for myself both the damage and destruction caused by Storm Desmond and the way in which communities are rallying around to help each other through this difficult time.
Supporting the recovery
The Government has made clear its determination to stand squarely behind those communities hit by flooding in the wake of Storm Desmond.
The Government has confirmed that we will provide over £60 million of support. The £47 million Community and Business Recovery Scheme will:
We have offered Council Tax and Business Rate relief to those affected. As part of the recovery scheme, my Department will make funding available to enable Councils to offer a 100% Council Tax discount to anyone who is unable to occupy their home and a 100% Business Rates discount for firms that have been impacted by flooding. This will be made available on at least as generous terms as in 2013-14.
We have activated the Bellwin emergency scheme and have made it simpler and easier to access, responding to local concerns. The Bellwin Grant will be available at 100% above threshold. We have reduced thresholds for upper tier authorities and allowed upper tier authorities with responsibility for fire services to claim Bellwin on a comparable basis to standalone fire authorities for fire related costs.