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ICE: ‘Use Budget to return flood investment to pre-2010 levels’

The ICE has urged the government to bring flood defence spending back up to pre-2010 levels in its pre-Budget submission to the Treasury.

It said the upcoming Budget presents a crucial opportunity for Westminster to show its long-term commitment to better protecting communities, businesses and infrastructure from extreme flooding events.

In its submission to the Treasury, ahead of the March Budget, the ICE urged the government to return capital and maintenance investment in flood risk management to pre-2010 levels in real terms.

It has also called for a longer term investment programme for flood risk management - beyond the current five year programme - to provide the certainty needed to improve flood resilience and to work more closely with Local Lead Flood Authorities to target spending where it is needed most.

The calls follow a recent warning from the Committee on Climate Change that investment in flood defences in this spending period is £500M behind the identified need, risking an extra £3bn in avoidable flood damage in future years.

Last week MPs debated the levels of investment in flood ­defences after the UK Statistics ­Authority cast doubt on the government’s claim that it is spending “a ­record amount” on flood defences and called for official ­figures to be published.

ICE director general, Nick Baveystock said: “While government funding for flood risk management rose to £370M in 2015-16 and is protected in real terms to 2020-21, unfortunately this provides neither the level of investment or the long term certainty required to improve resilience against flooding.

“The reductions to the maintenance settlement are also concerning, and as the recent flooding and coastal surges have shown, the flood defences protecting our communities, businesses and the other vital infrastructure networks and services we depend on must be maintained - regularly and comprehensively.

“The £130M recently pledged by the government to help fund emergency repairs and maintenance following the recent events is welcome - however, it does not make up for the cuts made in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, he added.

“This under-spend has been detrimental to communities, business and infrastructure, and the government has an opportunity at the March Budget to address this - demonstrating its commitment to decision making for the longer term and ensuring flood spending is targeted effectively.

“ICE and its members stand ready to work with the government to deliver more effective ways of building resilience into our approach to flood risk management, and provide expertise and technical support to the government’s review into transport network resilience,” he added.

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