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Councils must decide whether to raise taxes to deal with flooding, says minister

Cumbrian residents rescued from floodwaters Photo: PA

It is up to local authorities to decide whether to increase council tax rates to deal with flooding, a minister has told the Lords.

Communities minister Baroness Williams of Trafford was responding to reports that the Government had "encouraged" Somerset to raise its levy in order to boost flood defences after recent storms.

"It is entirely up to local authorities in terms of considering whether to increase their council tax, or not, what their priorities are in terms of what the money would go towards.

"But we have protected the flood funding and we are in fact considering whether to ring-fence flood funding"

– Communities minister Baroness Williams of Trafford

Labour's Lord Clark of Windermere raised the issue as he cautioned against ministers expecting Cumbria County Council to cover the cost of its nearly £500 million clear-up bill after the severe weather.

Baroness Williams said that if Cumbria required extra help to deal with infrastructure repairs, it should approach the Government for talks.

Plaid Cymru peer Lord Wigley insisted that any aid given to devolved administrations should be on the basis of need, and not existing funding formulas.

Tory Lord Cormack attempted to inject some humour into the situation, stating: "What exactly does a flooding envoy do? Does he work with the usual channels?"

Baroness Williams replied: "Boom, boom my lords," before explaining that the role co-ordinates relief efforts.