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The UK floods' false economy: What are the real costs?

Many people have been affected by recent heavy flooding across southern England. Photo: PA Wire

As the misery brought by the floods becomes more deeply engrained, the impact on lives and livelihoods is spreading.

Many believe that suffering has been worsened because of financial decisions made within government that resulted in too little being invested in defences and dredging.

Figures we’ve received suggest any such failure to put money in could have been a false economy.

The accountancy firm Deloitte has told us that if the accumulation of extreme weather claims extends further into February, the insurance industry could be facing a bill of £500m for the exceptional autumn and winter weather claims - matching the cost of the big freeze in 2010.

For households, flood claims cost on average £30,000 to £40,000.

Royal Marine from 40 Commando help to place sandbags to protect a property in Moorland, Somerset Credit: PA Wire

In the run-up to New Year, 1300 properties were flooded. Since the New Year, week by week flood claims have continued to mount and last weekend alone a further 270 additional flooded properties were reported by the Environment Agency.

Landlord Steve Betts stands in the doorway of his flooded pub Credit: PA Wire

Given the mounting insurance losses it is now less likely that premiums will fall in 2014 and we may see increases.

NFU Mutual which provides insurance for 70% of the farming industry, rural homes and businesses tells us it has received over 8,000 claims, for which they've estimated will cost £60m so far.

Farming has been under increasing pressure recently with the drive for cheap food.

The floods threaten to turn small profit margins into large losses. Research suggests that when a farm floods the cost will be between £30,000 and £90,000.

David Cameron speaks to farmer Tony Davy during a visit to Somerset Credit: PA Wire

We’ve spoken to an agricultural economists (Mitchells Accountants) who tell us that Somerset farmers alone will face £9million pounds of "additional costs" beyond immediate repairs and losses - things like reseeding and replacement animal feed.

The bill is already gigantic and growing still - but many of those caught in these floods will tell you much has been lost that money can't buy and that insurance can't replace.