Drop-ins to help flood grant applicants

Flood resilient house
Measures that can be installed to make a property more flood resilient

21 April 2016

Weekly drop-in sessions are being organised to make it easier for residents to access flood grants.

Hundreds of people in South Lakeland hit by December’s floods have already applied to a grant scheme where up to £5,000 is being offered to install measures to protect properties against future flooding.

The scheme still has a year left to run and ends on March 31, 2017, and any business owners or home owners who flooded in whole or part during Storm Desmond or Storm Eva and haven’t applied to the scheme are being encouraged to find out more.

To make that process easier, South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) - which is administering the central government-funded flood resilience grant scheme – is arranging regular drop-in sessions to help with applications.

Residents and business owners will be able to call in to Kendal Town Hall every Wednesday afternoon, between 1pm and 6pm, to discuss the grant.

The first drop-in will be next Wednesday, 27 April, and the sessions will continue every Wednesday until further notice.

Officers from SLDC’s public protection team, who are directly dealing with the grant applications, will be able to offer advice on filling out the forms and what information is required.

The Prime Minister announced in December that the government would be funding the scheme, which was amended in January to include business premises as well as residential properties.

The scheme and its application criteria have been devised by central government and SLDC has been tasked with administering the grants.

SLDC has been working with insurance companies which are submitting grant claims on behalf of their customers and social housing landlords applying on behalf of their tenants, as well individuals and businesses, and so far around 400applications have either been approved or are currently being processed.

The grants are intended to fund additional measures which improve the property’s future protection or resistance to flooding, over and above any repairs to flooded properties that would normally be covered by insurance.

The grant money is intended to be spent on improving the property’s resilience – which means not necessarily keeping flood water out, but ensuring that if the property floods again then the flooding will cause less damage and the property owner will be able to return much quicker.

SLDC has already written to all flood-affected residents and businesses informing them about the grant scheme with details how to apply and an application form.

The grants have also been promoted through the council’s social media channels and in local press articles, while information about the grants has been sent to community, business and charity groups involved in flood recovery work in the district and details about the £5,000 grants has been given out at roadshows and mobile units that have visited flood affected communities.

In addition a national charity backed by Prince Charles is supporting the £5,000 grant application process in South Lakeland.

The Business Emergency Resilience Group (BERG) - which is part of Prince Charles' charity 'Business in the Community' - has set up a one-stop advice unit at ASDA in Kendal to help local residents and businesses to apply for the £5,000 grants.

Advisers in the unit will be able to offer help and free no obligation advice about the grant process and they can, if the applicant chooses, also help to arrange surveys and quotes for installation work through the BERG network of businesses. 

Those affected by flooding in December can visit the BERG unit at ASDA in Kendal Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm or can call the telephone hotline: 01539 769057

Officers at SLDC are strongly recommending that property owners use some of the grant – typically from £150 up to a maximum of £500 – to get a professional flood survey carried out on their property.

This will identify the most appropriate and effective measures that should be taken to best protect the property from future flooding, and will help residents to apply for the correct amount of funding to carry out these measures.

The cost of the survey can be recouped as part of the grant application and in cases where a resident/business owner can’t afford the cost of the survey up-front, arrangements can be made to pay the surveyor directly from the grant fund.

More details about the scheme, including a list of the kinds of measures that can be taken, an idea of costs and lists of local companies that can provide flood surveys, can be found on our dedicated flood resilience grants page.

An SLDC spokesman said: “Hundreds of people have already applied for the grant, which can be spent on measures that can be installed to better protect properties against future flooding.

“We want as many people as possible to benefit from this grant so we’ve arranged drop-in sessions every week so that anyone applying, or thinking about applying, can come along for advice and information.

“We can also help with advice about whole community solutions, where neighbours can apply together to install complementary measures or measures that will help to protect a whole street.

“Our officers will support community schemes to ensure the best possible measures are installed, so if a group of residents or businesses wish to nominate a representative and get in touch we can offer help and advice with the application.

“We can also talk to people about flood surveys. Each property and location will have different requirements depending on the nature of the flooding in a particular area, so we’re recommending having a flood survey as the best way to ensure you’re protected as much as possible.

“There is also an expectation from central government that putting in appropriate flood resilience measures should be recognised by insurers to ensure property owners get the best possible deal on flood insurance in the future.’’

Where resilience measures can be provided at the same cost as standard like-for-like repairs, insurance companies should act to encourage take-up as part of the standard reinstatement process.

The funding is designed for measures to minimise the impact of flooding from adverse weather conditions and not, for instance, from the failure of water mains, internal water systems, or the failure of a sewerage system (unless the failure was itself caused by the adverse weather conditions). 

Grants will be payable to the person responsible for the fabric of the property, normally the property-owner.   Consideration will be given to property owners who wish to pool grants to enable flood arrangements to be put in place that may protect a number of properties in a community.

This is a one-off scheme to cover needs arising from the flooding occurring from Storm Desmond and Storm Eva in December 2015.

Grants are not intended to cover standard repairs or to provide compensation. They must be used only for improvements to the fabric of the premises that would have the impact of reducing the impact and cost of subsequent flooding on the property.

Anyone who has already instructed builders to carry out repair work on their property that includes flood resilience measures may be able to claim back the cost of the specific flood protection work retrospectively from the grant fund if they can provide invoices for the work.