Ministers have decided to make a number of changes to further improve the way government funding is allocated to flood risk management schemes. This includes a recognition of the wider benefits that flood alleviation projects can bring.
‘Building flood defences fit for the future‘ – these changes have been announced by Defra today, 17 April 2020. Defra and the Environment Agency have also published new guidance on Partnership funding for FCERM projects, to reflect these changes.
We encourage you to review the new guidance, register for one of the series of briefing webinars for all risk management authorities and visit the Environment Agency’s new partnership funding SharePoint site – a central place to get advice and support. Users outside the Environment Agency may need to send an email to request access to this.
Further detail on the changes
The current 6 year FCERM capital investment programme will end in April 2021. With thanks to our impressive partnerships since 2015, we anticipate securing around £600 million in partnership funding, enabling us to be on target to better protect 300,000 households by April next year. After that date we move into the new 6 year programme to invest the £5.2 billion announced in the recent Budget. This presents an opportunity for government, the Environment Agency, and all risk management authorities to build on what we have delivered so far to further reduce flood risk across the country.
An independent evaluation published last year indicated that Defra’s partnership funding approach has resulted in more than 400 additional flood schemes being delivered and over 66,000 additional properties better protected from flooding and coastal erosion. Using the findings from this evaluation, Defra has been working with the Environment Agency and others to consider what updates could be made to the partnership funding policy. The changes that Defra are announcing today are based on the feedback we have had over the current 6 year programme, including through informal consultation with RFCCs and groups such as ADA, ADEPT and the LGA.
The changes are:
- updated payment rates to reflect inflation and new evidence on flood damages since 2011 (including people impacts such as mental health)
- a new intermediate risk band for moving properties and other assets between high and medium risk to help manage surface water flood risk – meaning more surface water schemes are likely to receive Defra grant in the future
- improved payment rates for environmental benefits to better capture the wider environmental benefits achieved by some flood schemes and encourage environmentally beneficial design
- recognition of the benefits for properties that will become at risk in the lifetime of flood defences due to the impacts of climate change
Additional funding streams will also mean:
- more money for flood risk management schemes that help to protect critical infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads and railways
- more money to upgrade existing Environment Agency flood risk assets
The new guidance includes updated:
- operational principles on how government grant will be invested
- partnership funding calculator and associated guidance
- guidance on maximising environmental outcomes
A note on transitional arrangements explains how we will manage the change to the new approach.
Later this year, Defra will launch a public consultation on floods funding policy to gather insights from across the country. These views will help to further develop its FCERM funding vision for the future. More information on the consultation and details of how you can take part will be made available in due course.
All these changes will enable us to better protect 336,000 properties by 2027 by:
- promoting innovation
- investing to address the impacts of climate change
- improving the environment and supporting smaller schemes, especially those addressing surface water flooding
- recognising the wellbeing impacts on those affected by flooding and coastal change
If you have any immediate queries please get in touch with the Environment Agency FCRM Investment team. Otherwise please join us for one of the briefing webinars, the first of which is scheduled for 5 May.