Statistics watchdog: 'Flood defence spending cut by £247m'

The head of the UK's statistics watchdog has contradicted the Government's claim on record levels of spending on flood defences and called for official figures to be published "in the public interest", the Guardian reports.

PM insists investment in flood defences has increased

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that investment in flood defences has increased during his parliament.

The Prime Minister insisted that spending on flood defences had went up. Credit: ITV News

In a heated exchange during which the Prime Minister was accused by Labour leader Ed Miliband of using "phony" figures, he said:

"We have set out spending figures, all the way to 2020, not all of which are fully committed, which are major investments in flood defences. As I said two weeks ago, as the waters reside, and as we review what happened, we can review and see what new measures we can take.

"Let me repeat, that in this four year period, and indeed in this parliament, overall spending on flood defences has went up."

Read: UK Statistics Authority: Flood spending cut by £247 million

UK Statistics Authority: Flood spending cut by £247m

The UK Statistics Authority said it looked into the figures on the amount of public cash spent on flood defences and agreed with the analysis by the House of Commons Library, which found funding had been cut by £247 million in real terms, the Guardian reports.

It has called for the government to publish the official figures.

Read: Statistics watchdog 'calls for flood spending figures'

Following a complaint by Labour MP Hugh Bayley, Sir Andrew Dilnot said they looked into the matter, and found:

  • Public cash spent from 2007 to 2011 was £2.37billion
  • Public cash spent from 2011 to 2015 will be £2.34
  • In real terms this amounts to a £247 million funding cut between the two periods

More: Institute of Civil Engineers calls for increase in flood defence budget

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Statistics watchdog 'calls for flood spending figures'

The head of the UK Statistics Authority has contradicted the government's claim on record spending for flood defences, and called for official figures to be published "in the public interest" the Guardian reports.

A man pull a boat in Somerset during the flooding that engulfed thousands of homes in January and February.
A man pull a boat in Somerset during the flooding that engulfed thousands of homes in January and February. Credit: Press Association

Sir Andrew Dilnot made the call following a bitter row between Labour and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on flood defence funding. The issue is due to be debated in the House of Commons today.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Civil Engineers called for flooding defence budgets to return to pre-2010 levels, and said the government needs to commit to a longer-term investment beyond the current five-year programme.

Read: Institute of Civil Engineers calls for increase in flooding budget

Engineers call for rise in flood management budget

Government spending on flood risk management should increase in next month's budget, a leading engineering organisation has said.

The Institution of Civil Engineers said the Environment Agency's annual maintenance budget for flood defences had fallen by 39.2 per cent from more than £100 million in 2010/11 to just £60.7 million in 2014/15.

Flooding severely affected parts of the UK this winter. Credit: PA Wire

The ICE called on the Chancellor George Osborne to return capital and maintenance investment in flood risk management to pre-2010 levels in real terms, after claiming the Prime Minister's recent announcement of £130 million for emergency repairs and maintenance was not enough.

David Cameron has previously said "money is no object" to help those affected by the recent floods.

Ministers should commit to a longer-term investment programme for flood defences beyond the current five-year programme, to provide the certainty needed to improve flood resilience, the organisation added.

Watch: Aerial images show UK's altered landscape after floods