7th February 2014
The property industry has welcomed David Cameron’s £130m pledge to help flood operations across Britain but some areas will face long-term misery if the government goes ahead with plans to exclude millions of homes and businesses from its new affordable flood insurance scheme.
The British Property Federation (BPF) has warned that although the extra funds were necessary, they will not compensate for a lack of affordable flood cover within communities most at risk.
The ‘Flood Re’ proposals, drawn up between government and the insurance industry, currently stand to exclude all leasehold flats, SMEs and private rented properties from building insurance, despite one in six properties being at risk of flooding in the UK. This will mean that more than 5m homes and 4m businesses will not have access to the affordable flood insurance scheme.
Recent research from the Open University Business School has reported that extreme weather events are perceived as the biggest threat to SMEs in the UK, with over a quarter citing adverse conditions as a ‘real threat’ to their business. The impacts of being excluded from Flood Re for those in high flood risk areas could be financially devastating.
Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation says: “We are witnessing the devastating effects that floods have on people’s livelihoods. By excluding millions of properties from its new flood insurance scheme, those who are unable to punch their weight in the insurance market – individual homeowners in leasehold flats, small independent businesses and buy to let landlords – the government is exposing people’s homes and livelihoods to risk, greater financial burden and insecurity.
“We would urge government and the insurance industry to reconsider these unnecessary exclusions, which will hit the smallest hardest. The huge costs of repairing a property after a flood is easily enough to bring a small business to its knees, and excluding individual home-owning leaseholders purely on the basis that insurers’ IT systems can’t cope is a poor excuse. Flood insurance is not a luxury for some to afford – it is a necessity.”
The BPF is currently supporting amendments being tabled in the House of Lords that will extend affordable flood insurance to those excluded groups and is urging Parliamentarians who care about small businesses, housing supply and homeowners to support them.