Pitt's final report is due this summer and is likely to make a large number of wide ranging recommendations on the coordination of various bodies responsible for flooding and the preparedness of emergency services for such events.
Benn failed to reveal what exactly the £34.5M would be spent on, although this figure is only likely to represent a minimum spend on Pitt's recommendations: Benn also announced today that the Environment Agency will receive £1.8bn of the total £2.15bn funding between 2008 and 2011. After using £788M to fund its own flood risk management costs the Agency will allocate the funding across all Operating Authorities, which include local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards.
A significant amount of the remaining funds could go to local authorities, as Pitt is likely to recommend that councils take control of surface water drainage at a local level. To aid them in this, Pitt has said that every county council and unitary authority must recruit at least one senior flood engineer.
Benn said: "The devastation that was caused by the unprecedented level of rainfall this summer has shown us the awful and lasting impact flooding can have on communities.
"If we are to learn the lessons and reduce the impact of future flooding on this scale, we have much work to do. I have accepted the urgent recommendations outlined in Sir Michael Pitt's interim report, but there will be still more to consider when he publishes his final report, later on this year. This is why I have set aside an initial £34.5M of funding, in anticipation of the work that his final recommendations may ask for."
Government spending on flood management is set to rise from its current level of £600M per year, to £650M in 2008-09, £700M in 2009-10 and £800M in 2010-11.