I have received the enclosed letter from the Communities Secretary:
Leaders of local authorities
Affected by winter 2013-14 flooding
22 October 2014
Flood Recovery Progress
Last winter was the wettest for 250 years, and large areas of the country experienced flooding on an unprecedented scale. Local authorities, households and businesses were all affected and in many cases it has taken several months to return to normal.
In response to these extreme circumstances, the government made a range of financial support schemes available to help those affected get back on their feet. Two key schemes are the Repair and Renew Grant, and the Business Support Scheme. The Repair and Renew Grant provides up to £5,000 to homeowners and businesses whose properties were flooded between 1 December 2013 and 31 March 2014 to help enhance the resilience of properties which may be at risk of further flooding. The Business Support Scheme, worth £10 million, provides hardship funding for SME businesses in affected areas that suffered significant loss of trade are able to apply for support. Details on both schemes can be found here: Support Scheme Guidance Note.
My officials have been monitoring recovering progress since the floods. We have been asking all affected local authorities to provide fortnightly returns via an online portal on a number of key indicators, including take up of the Repair and Renewal Grant, and the Business Support Scheme. However engagement with the portal has been inconsistent; while some authorities have returned information every fortnight, others have provided nothing. Clearly, this makes it impossible for us to compile an accurate national picture.
I intend to publish a Recovery Progress Report in November which will contain the data provided to us by all affected areas. In order to ensure that this reflects the latest position in your authority, I would be grateful if your officials could send us the very latest data by 31 October. For any queries relating to this portal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where data is available, we have identified several areas where the take-up rate of both the Repair and Renew Grant and Business Support Scheme is far lower than the reported number of properties flooded, indicating that there are many more people eligible for one or both grants, than have actually applied. I am asking for your help in ensuring that you are doing all you can to promote the support available.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who have been flooded may be reluctant to apply for the Repair and Renewal Grant, because of a perceived fear that either the application or receipt of the grant will cause their insurance costs to rise. We have worked closely with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) on this issue, and they have reassured us that premiums are not affected by the application or receipt of the Repair and Renew Grant. The ABI’s most recent letter on this is published on our website (ABI Repair and Renew Grant letter), which you may wish to direct your residents to, in order to help get this important message out.
I am also copying this letter to local MPs.
THE RT HON ERIC PICKLES MP