Halifax MP Holly Lynch has accused the Government of treating flood-hit residents as a low priority after it was revealed that they have refused to reopen a vital grants scheme, which assisted thousands of households in Calderdale and around the country in 2015/16, for those affected by recent flooding.
Lancaster and the village of Galgate were the worst affected in last month's floods as heavy rain fell in areas which were also badly hit by Storm Desmond two years ago. Lancaster University recorded the highest ever 24hr rainfall total in 50 years of observations.
After Storm Desmond in 2015 the Government made grants available of £500 to support households in the immediate aftermath, and offered up to £5,000 to help make properties better prepared to cope with any future flooding.
The scheme also provided support for businesses, providing local authorities with funding worth over £2,500 for every business flooded. At the time Calderdale Council said that they had received over 1,120 applications and expressions of interest for the repair and renew grant from residents, and nearly 40% of eligible businesses had applied.
However, the Government have now revealed that they will not offer Lancaster City Council the funding to provide grants to those affected by the latest floods, raising questions about their commitment to providing these grants after future flooding events in other parts of the country. Responding to a written question Minister Jake Berry said:
“For events of the scale as seen recently, local areas are expected to provide support from within their own resources. The Government therefore has no plans to activate a wider cross government recovery programme.” He added that Storm Desmond and Eva “was an exceptional case.”
Labour's Shadow Flooding Minister Holly Lynch MP has called on the Government to reconsider this decision and raised the issue in Parliament this week. She believes that the decision is concerning for all those at risk of flooding who may require these grants in the future.
Ms Lynch said:
"Conservative Ministers decide whether to offer these crucial grants on an ad hoc basis with the money then delivered by Local Authorities. I think it shows appalling judgement that the Government claim these recent floods are not severe enough for them to provide support.
"We're working in Westminster to pressure Ministers to make sure they provide a full support package for residents and businesses affected.
"It sets a worrying precedent that this widespread flooding is being treated as such a low priority by the Government and will be of concern to residents in Calderdale who are threatened by future flooding."