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£5,000 grants for flood victims

A flooded street13/2/14

By Mark Stillman

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that grants of up to £5,000 will be available to flood-hit homeowners.

The offer backs up his promise earlier this week that "money is no object" in the relief effort.

Many householders have had to claim heavily on their home insurance as relentless rains have dogged much of Britain, especially parts of Somerset and Surrey.

Affected families will be able to use the grants towards built-in defences, such as watertight gates.

Flood relief offered

Mr Cameron also made the same pledge to flood-hit companies with the promise of business rate relief too.

He announced at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday: "We will be introducing a grant for all affected homeowners and businesses to build in better flood protection as they repair their properties.

"That will be up to £5,000 per house and per business.

"On top of that we are announcing a £10 million fund for farmers who have seen their land waterlogged day after day, week after week.

"I can also announce today that we will be deferring the tax payments that businesses have to pay and all of the businesses that have been affected by floods will get 100% business rate relief."

Flood-affected firms will be exempt 100% of their business rates for three months.

The relief will be overseen by local councils, which will be reimbursed by central government.

'Good news to many businesses'

In addition, flood-ravaged companies will also be permitted to postpone payment of taxes, including VAT, PAYE and corporation tax for three months.

The Department for the Environment (Defra) will supervise the £10 million fund for farms.

This will help remove debris left on fields by the receding waters and clear access routes.

Some £31 million is also being offered to finance resilience schemes on railway lines in the South West.

John Allan, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The help announced today will be good news to many businesses which may not be able to trade and will be under financial pressure.

Flood scheme needs re-thinking 

"The government now needs to look at how to make flood defences more robust to protect against these incidents.

"It remains a concern the government has chosen not to include small firms in its Flood Re scheme.

"FSB research shows one in five small firms were affected by floods in 2012-13 and we know many struggle to get adequate insurance cover.

"If they can't use this scheme, small businesses will be forced to pay exorbitantly high costs to be insured against this threat.

"We want the government and the insurance industry to think again on this issue."

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