To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the 2018 NAO report on the financial sustainability of local authorities published by the NAO in March 2018, what plans he has to (a) promote a sustainable means of funding flood defences and (b) mitigate the risk that flooding presents to communities and the economy.
The NAO report states that while local authority spending power has decreased, local Government spending on floods has increased by 29% in real terms since 2010.
This Government is investing £2.6 billion capital to better protect the country from flooding. £2.6 billion is a real terms increase – up from £1.7 billion in the 2010-2015 Parliament, and £1.5 billion between 2005 and 2010. Local authorities have access to this funding for flood defence improvements on the same terms as the Environment Agency and internal drainage boards.
Other funding for local authority needs, including for local flood management, is provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Over this spending period, councils will be able to access more than £200 billion to spend on local services. The majority of this funding is non-ring-fenced as it is for local authorities, who are independent of central Government, to manage their budgets in line with locally determined priorities.