9th December 2015
The Chancellor has unveiled a £50m fund to help households and businesses who have been hit by the flooding from Storm Desmond in Cumbria and Lancashire.
Each family would be able to claim up to £5,000 to protect their homes from future damage, according to the BBC.
George Osborne revealed the plan in answer to a question from shadow first secretary of state Angela Eagle who asked whether those affected could have a guarantee of receiving help quickly.
Eagle said only 15% of those affected by last winter’s floods had received promised financial assistance.
As part of the announcement, the Scottish government will receive almost £4m to help communities affected by flooding caused by Storm Desmond.
The Government has already announced that about 5,000 homes and businesses hit by floods in Cumbria and Lancashire would be given temporary relief from their council tax and business rates.
The deluge brought by Storm Desmond began on 4 December, flooding thousands of homes in Cumbria and Lancashire and causing widespread damage and power cuts.
Osborne said power had been restored to 168,000 homes after record rainfall and the West Coast mainline was running again.
Homeowners can claim £500 would for temporary accommodation and a grant of up to £5,000 to pay for barriers, waterproof doors and higher electrical sockets to protect their homes from future floods.
Businesses can claim up to £2,500 to help them to resume trading.
The Environment Agency will receive £10m to repair damage to flood defences.
The Government also promised to match up to £1m collected by the Cumbria Community Foundation.
The Association of British Insurers has also set out the industry commitments to helping customers affected.
It says: “The UK insurance industry has a critical role in helping homeowners and businesses cope with the trauma of flooding, along with local authorities, Government, the Environment Agency, and the emergency services. From assisting our customers and their families through the confusion and distress in the immediate aftermath of a flood, to the long recovery and restoration process which follows a significant flood, the industry understands the importance of delivering on behalf of its customers.
“Insurers have been working flat out since this latest flooding incident began to help customers in distress from both flooding and storms and will continue to do so. They are already making emergency payments where necessary to meet immediate needs. These commitments enshrine our promise to customers on what they can continue to expect from us, now and in the months ahead, during the drying out and repair process.”
The ABI says its members commit to:
Contact customers proactively in flooded areas to offer assistance.
Ensure claims lines have the capacity to deal with all customer calls promptly, to provide advice and assistance. Most insurers operate 24 hour claims lines.
Deploy insurers’ own emergency response teams in all areas where they have a significant number of affected customers.
Pay emergency payments to support flooded customers, their families and businesses where necessary for immediate needs. We commit to making those payments urgently and as quickly as possible.
Provide alternative accommodation and business premises as a matter of urgency to affected eligible customers.
Send loss adjusters to flooded homes and businesses as soon as is practically possible, working closely with local GOLD command operations on access to affected areas. Insurers will continue to monitor proactively the availability of key resources over the coming months.
Assess damage, begin decontamination, drying out and repair process as quickly as possible, overseeing all those involved in the claims process to ensure suppliers work well together in customers’ interests.
Inform customers and keep them involved throughout the restoration process which can take many months to complete.
Discuss options for resilient or resistant repairs that may be available to homeowners and businesses as part of the repair process.
Continue to work towards ensuring Flood Re will be up and running by April 2016. Flood Re will be a new reinsurance scheme that will allow high flood risk homes to access affordable home insurance going forward.
The ABI has produced a guide: ‘Responding to Major Floods’ to help guide people through claiming following a flood, including the drying out and restoration process. More information can be found in the Flooding section of its website.