Oliver Letwin: ‘We will meet the costs of flooding’

Courtesy of View from Bridport

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has reassured victims of flood damage in Bridport and West Bay that the UK Government will “meet the costs” of flooding, regardless of whether or not it applies for a funding boost from the European Union.

Bridport and West Bay felt the full force of the extreme weather last month as heavy rain and 75mph winds laid siege to the coastline.

Some West Bay residents were forced to evacuate their homes overnight on Friday, February 14th as roofs were blown off houses in Heron Court, and transport links in and out of the area suffered major disruption.

And on a visit to Bridport and West Bay last week Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson called for the Government to apply for financial support from the EU Solidarity Fund.

But following the announcement of a number of schemes to help those hit by the storms, Mr Letwin said the Government would be putting money behind a “huge long-term investment programme” in flood defence.

He said: “We are looking at whether we can qualify for money from the EU Solidarity Fund to help pay for the costs of repair. 

“But regardless of whether we do or do not get such funding from the EU, the UK Government will meet both the costs of the huge long-term investment programme in national flood defence as well as 100 per cent of the urgent repair costs faced by West Dorset District Council and Dorset County Council under the new rules of the so-called ‘Bellwin’ formula.

“And we will also provide the funds needed for farmers to regenerate flooded fields, and for flooded householders to obtain up to £5,000 in improved flood defences for the house itself.”

A series of options have been made available to ensure flood victims receive financial support, including business rate relief for three months and a council tax rebate for flooded homes.

Other packages include a £5,000 grant for work to help bolster properties against future flooding, a support scheme for affected businesses and a £10 million fund for farmers suffering from water-logged fields.

Dorset County Council has confirmed it will be bidding for further Government funding to help with the costs of repairs following prolonged rainfall and gale force winds.

Councillor Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset County Council, said: “This is good news for the people of Dorset. We are working with our partner councils to ensure that there are a clear set of criteria to use to help people and businesses that need it.

“It is important for the local economy that businesses have the help they need to get them back on their feet and continue trading.”

Several major banks are also offering their financial support. Banks and building societies including RBS, Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC, Santander and Nationwide are offering a range of support programmes including the £250 milllion UK Storm Business Fund offering three-month interest free and fee-free loans. Advisers can be contacted on 0800 529 8544.

For more information on the Government’s support schemes visit www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-floods-2014-government-response