South ‘favoured’ by flood cash formula

The Kirkstall Road area of Leeds after the devastating floods on Boxing Day 2015.
The Kirkstall Road area of Leeds after the devastating floods on Boxing Day 2015.

NORTHERN cities like Leeds may be losing out on flood defence funding because the system for allocating taxpayers’ money favours protecting wealthy families and the South East, analysis suggests.

The Government has said it applies a strict economic formula to decide where funding should be spent.

A cyclist makes their way through the flood water in the days following Boxing Day 2015.

A cyclist makes their way through the flood water in the days following Boxing Day 2015.

But the methods to determine where funding goes focus on the value of assets protected and could tilt the system towards richer households and areas where house prices are higher, it has emerged.

It has prompted calls for a fairer system to prevent the poor being worst hit by floods.

Last year’s floods affected 298 homes and 375 businesses in Leeds and neighbouring Calderdale was also badly hit.

Coun Tom Leadley, who chaired a scrutiny committee into flooding in Leeds in 2005, said the “arthritic” system does not move fast enough.

The system is arthritic – it doesn’t move fast enough.

Coun Tom Leadley

An area like Kirkstall would come out lower in the Government’s cost benefit analysis because it had more commercial businesses and these rate lower than homes.

Coun Leadley said: “There’s supposed to be a study going on in Kirkstall, but nothing is actually happening.”

But he warned against a “North-South slanging match”, saying: “There needs to be more money all round.”

The North West, North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber received more money than the South-East and London over the five years and in 2015/16.

But when the figures include spending on flood defences in the South West, the balance is tipped in favour of the South.

The South-East received the most money for flood defences – more than £263m between 2010 and 2015, and almost £59m in 2015/16.

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