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Peers hail flood insurance deal

28/1/14

By Trevor Mason

Recent extreme weather has shown the importance of a new deal between the government and flood insurers, an environment minister has said.

Lord de Mauley called for peers to back the government's Water Bill scheme to keep insurance premiums down.

Under plans agreed with the insurance industry in June, household insurers will pay a levy into a fund for claims made by people in danger of being flooded.

Lord de Mauley told peers: "The recent extreme weather has highlighted the important role that the insurance industry plays in helping people get back on their feet after flooding.

Affordable insurance for those at high risk of flooding

"The measures in this Bill bring forward powers to provide affordable insurance for those at high risk of flooding."

He said the government's preferred approach - a reinsurance scheme known as Flood Re - would "limit the amount that high-risk households have to pay on the flood insurance element of their premiums and excesses".

He said the limit would vary according to council tax band which meant benefits would be "targeted at lower income households".

Lord De Mauley said he expected the system to be up and running from next year.

Greater competition for the water industry

The Bill, which has already cleared the House of Commons, also seeks to inject greater competition into the water industry.

Lord de Mauley said: "The Water Bill will prepare our water sector to face the challenges of the future.

"There will be greater choice for customers, leading to improved efficiency more innovation and better levels of service.”

For the Opposition, Lord Whitty, said: "This Bill is not really up to the job of sorting out the strategic future for the sector."

He said Labour would not oppose the broad thrust of the legislation, but said the main problem was what it left out.

But he said he supported the "overall principles" of Flood Re.

Distress and suffering caused by floods

"It must be foremost in our minds the distress and suffering caused by the recent floods and the impact on families, farms and businesses," he said.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Parminter said: "We support this Bill which sets the framework to improve the health of our precious lakes and rivers, while keeping water available and affordable."

But she said there were areas that her party would like to see strengthened.

She added: "Opening up the upstream water market should go hand in hand with reform of the abstraction licensing regime and rising demand for water should be tackled by greater metering."


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