Government bolsters fund for flood-hit farmers by £2m

Flood sign

The government has added £2m to a fund to help farmers who suffered "uninsurable" damage during last year’s floods.

Farmers in parts of South Yorkshire who were affected by flooding last November are able to apply for grants of £500 up to £25,000 from the Farming Recovery Fund.

The fund initially opened last September, with £2m available for grants for farmers affected by Summer flooding in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire’s Wainfleet.

Today’s addition brings the total funding for the year up to £4m.

Funds can cover a number of repair costs, including the removal of debris, re-cultivation and replacing damaged field gates.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “I saw first-hand the impacts of this devastating flooding myself when visiting farmers in Lincolnshire in November.”

She added: “This scheme, coupled with the other measures we’ve announced, will help farmers get back on their feet.”

Rural Payments Agency CEO Paul Caldwell said: “The Farming Recovery Fund provides support to farmers following extreme flooding events, contributing to the costs of the clean-up operation and to uninsurable losses.

“While insurance will pay out for the majority of the damage, under the Farming Recovery Fund farmers will be able to apply for money to help cover unexpected costs – such as rebuilding fences and stone walls.”

Insured losses

The government is set to investigate how effective insurance has proved in flood-hit regions, after recent reports highlighted a number of people as not having sufficient cover.

Dan Jarvis, elected mayor of the Sheffield city region, has spoken out about Flood Re, saying: “I don’t think this scheme has worked.”

The Association of British Insurers has pegged insured losses for the November floods at up to £110m.

Reacting to the government’s pledged investigation, ABI director general Huw Evans insisted the insurers had responded well to the floods and any review should look at increasing awareness around under-insurance.

Evans said: “Insurers have responded promptly and effectively to these latest floods, so any review should focus on how to improve under-insurance where the government itself has an important role to build awareness. Insurers expect to pay out over £100m in claims from the South Yorkshire floods and have played a vital role in helping people and businesses manage the impact of the devastating flooding.

“The UK’s world-first Flood Re scheme fulfils an important role in ensuring affordable ongoing insurance for households in high-flood risk areas, while avoiding incentivising unwise construction. So far 250,000 homeowners have benefited from the scheme, who would otherwise face difficulties in getting flood cover. UK insurers, that set up Flood Re, and pay £180m per year to support it, will resist any attempts to widen the scheme to cover recent floodplain development.”

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