Hundreds apply for flood protection grants

Flood damage

1 April 2016

Around 400 applications have been made in South Lakeland under 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 December’s storms and haven’t applied to the scheme are being encouraged to find out more.

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 South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has been tasked with administering the grants.

SLDC has been working with insurance companies which are submitting grant claims on behalf of customers and social housing landlords applying on behalf of tenants, as well individuals and businesses. So far around 400 applications 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 in the future the flooding will cause less damage and the property owner will be able to return much quicker.

Resilience measures covered under the scheme include measures such as:

·         Replacing chipboard kitchen or bathroom units with plastic units to minimise water damage

·         Replacing existing plaster and wall insulation with water resistant plaster and insulation materials

·         Replacing timber floors with solid floors

·         Smaller measures such as watertight covers for airbricks, moving electrical sockets higher up the wall to avoid being damaged by floodwater and special seals and valves to prevent sewage backflow

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 or 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 the resilience grant page on this website.

An SLDC spokesman said: “At this early stage of the scheme it is encouraging that around 400 applications have been made for the £5,000 resilience grant.

“The government scheme ends in a year’s time but we would urge people to apply as early as possible so that the resilience measures can be installed, which should ensure that your property is better protected from the effects of any future flooding.

“Although there is no requirement for a survey in order to apply for a resilience grant, having one done will avoid someone potentially using the grant money to install measures they think will help, but in fact make little difference.

“This is especially true if your property is attached to a neighbour, for example if it is part of a terrace. There is little point installing resilience measures at your property if your neighbour doesn’t, as you could still flood via the neighbour’s property.

“In these situations we are urging people to consider working with neighbours to come up with a community solution, possibly by installing complementary measures, or measures that will help to protect the whole street. Again, a surveyor will be able to advise on the best way to protect groups of properties.

“Our officers will also help to 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.

“Each property and location will have different requirements depending on the nature of the flooding in a particular area, so having a bespoke survey is 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.