Budget promises much-needed flood defence spending

Last week’s budget which focussed on “levelling up” infrastructure across the country included promises to improve flood defences.

Following the mass flooding last year which saw the Environment Agency issue 147 flood warnings in one day in November, many of which were in South Yorkshire, the government has made substantial pledges to sure up flood defences.  

Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged an immediate £120m to vulnerable areas including Calder Valley and Barnsley East, to help repair defences which were damaged by flooding there.

An additional £200m was also promised to communities most at risk of flooding to better prepare them to recover faster.  

Pledging an overall shakeup of flood defence spending, Mr Sunak said: “To protect people and over 300,000 properties I am doubling our investment in flood defences over the next six years.” 

This projected expenditure would see “record funding” of £5.2bn between 2021 and 2027, ensuring better flooding protection for a total of 336,000 homes and non-residential properties.

However last week, a Guardian article revealed the expenditure included no extra spending on maintaining flood protections.  

Instead the extra funding will be solely for capital projects, allowing for the creation of 2,000 new flood defences.

Specific details of where will see the most benefit are unclear, though South Yorkshire areas such as Fishlake and the Lower Don Valley were some of the worst affected by last year’s floods.

In November the Met Office reported that Sheffield experienced its wettest Autumn on record last year.