The government has finally acted on flood insurance after pressure from Labour MPs to protect vulnerable householders in high-risk areas. The deal reached with insurers should enable over 400,000 people to receive protection, now a cap on premiums is at last promised to be implemented.
Whilst this is a step forward for Exeter, where people rightly have concerns that they would not be insurable, the government’s deal is fraught with difficulties and might not even be completed by 2015.
We do not yet know how affordable and accessible this scheme will be. Indeed, the government’s promises can only be believed when people who have been refused insurance in the past can now phone up the same company and receive protection.
The scheme will only operate for 20-25 years, after which home-owners will be expected to protect themselves. This raises concerns that future flood events will hit vulnerable, uninsured householders.
Furthermore, government investment in flood defences is still at an unacceptable level. Exeter’s defences are in dire need of upgrading to ensure the protection of homes, businesses and our rail connections, as we witnessed in November last year.
It was revealed last year that 300 shovel-ready flood defence projects which had been in line for funding had not been built due to government cuts. This raises questions as to whether government promises of flood defence infrastructure investment can be delivered.