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Council criticised for bureaucracy over flood grants

This yard is being leveled so water runs away from the house Photo: ITV News Border

People whose homes were flooded in Kendal say grants to protect their property from flooding in future are taking too long to process, leaving some in debt and stopping others from being able to do the work at all.

The flood resilience grants were announced by the government shortly after Storm Desmond and have been praised by politicians ever since.

South Lakeland District Council says it's rushing through applications but only 28 have been approved out of 114 submitted.

Jack Simpson has installed £8,000 of flood protection in his home Credit: ITV News Border

Jack Simpson has been working all hours to repair his home after the floods. He's applied for a £5,000 grant to protect his home from flooding in future. But after 3 months, he still hasn't received the money.

Instead of waiting, he's spent £8,000 on a concrete floor, raising the electrics, installing valves on the drains to stop sewage coming in and leveling his back yard so water runs away from the house.

"To wait as long as the grant is taking is just ridiculous so we took a bit of a wing and a prayer and went for it, but at the point the concrete went in we didn't actually know if we could afford it or we'd get the concrete in and then not finish say the kitchen or something else."

– Jack Simpson, Joiner & flooded resident of Kendal
Jack's put in a concrete floor so it dries quicker if it floods again Credit: ITV News Border
Jack's raised his electrics to above the 2015 flood line Credit: ITV News Border
Jack's installed valves on the drains so sewage can be stopped from entering the house Credit: ITV News Border

But Margaret Fallon didn't apply for the grant in December because the form was too confusing.

Now one of Prince Charles' charities is helping her with the forms, but some flood protection has to be installed before other repairs, so it's now too late for that for Margaret's home.

"The letter came quite late and when it came, it could have been in Chinese because I just couldn't understand it. And I put it to one side and my daughter said, 'leave it. You've got enough to contend with, just leave it for now. I can't cope with ripping out again and having to start over. I've already been upstairs since the 4th January, I want my home back you know? But there are things I can do and I will do you know? And even if I have to put more money towards the grant then I will do that to make my home safe because I don't want to go through this again."

– Margaret Fallon, flooded resident of Kendal
Assessors from the BERG unit are helping Margaret fill out grant forms Credit: ITV News Border

The grant money has come from the Government, but it's administered by local councils. South Lakeland District Council says it's working as hard as it can.

Fiona Inston is the Public Protection Manager for SLDC: