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Government warned cuts to flood defences would double homes at risk

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Government cuts to councils and the Environment Agency put more homes at risk of flooding, the government was warned in November

A document prepared by the Association of Drainage Authorities, which represents public bodies responsible for managing water levels, was discussed by ministers.

The report, leaked to The Observer this week, said that reductions in public funding could leave almost twice as many households at ‘significant risk’ of flooding in the next 20 years.

The document said: ’The rivers and coasts of some rural areas are at a major crossroads and their funding is purely based on the benefits of flood risk to people and property as calculated currently.

’The Environment Agency has … reduced the extent of their watercourse channel maintenance and taken steps to stop operating a number of structures and systems. Examples include lowland catchments across Lancashire and Cumbria.’

The paper said that funding by the Environment Agency for maintaining flood assets has fallen by 14 per cent while cuts of 40 per cent to council budgets had led to reductions in funding to drainage boards and other organisations responsible for managing river levels.

’Such reductions in investment mean that some river, watercourse and sea defence systems and structures are maintained only to a minimal level; consequently the useful lives of those assets will be reduced,” the paper said.

The Observer said that the paper was discussed by floods minister Rory Stewart and cabinet office minister Oliver Letwin, who is leading a flooding review on behalf of the government.

Yesterday, the government announced £40 million of funding to repair flood defences which were overwhelmed in Boxing Day floods caused by Storm Eva.

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