Flood damaged communities across Britain could lose out on scores of millions of pounds after the Government refused to guarantee cash from the EU solidarity fund, paid out to support communities affected by natural disasters.
In the wake of the Brexit vote, the Treasury promised to underwrite some cash expected from the EU however it has refused to do so for the potential solidarity fund monies.
A spokeswoman told Transport Network that it could not guarantee cash that the UK is in the process of bidding for and that has not been awarded yet.
In 2008, Britain received £120m from the solidarity fund for damage caused by floods. The country could have been in line for a similar payment after Storms Desmond and Eva last winter, however the application process has been dogged by blunders, leaving doubts any cash will be awarded.
Labour slammed the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) attempts to bid for the cash as a ‘total shambles’.
The communities department was criticised for delays, for potentially handing in applications too late to help flood-damaged communities, for not knowing exactly how much cash they are applying for and for not stating exactly where the money would go, leaving some concerned the cash could simply be used to repay central government coffers.
Transport Network can now reveal that the DCLG has still not finalised its application or confirmed how much it is bidding for, and has still not committed any cash it does win to the communities affected.
Shadow environment secretary, Labour’s Rachael Maskell, told Transport Network: ‘The Government dragged its feet over submitting an application to the EU Solidarity Fund and it only did so after bowing to Parliamentary pressure. Eight months after Storm Eva’s Boxing Day floods we learn that it is still applying for the funds. Families and communities are still struggling and many businesses have been lost as a result of this.
'The Government should have done everything it could to access these funds and following the EU Referendum, there continues to be great uncertainty. I do not know if we will ever receive this additional and vital help.'
The DCLG highlighted that it has paid out over £250m to get households and businesses back on their feet after the storms. If the solidarity fund application were successful, ministers would consider how best to use the funding to support flood recovery, a spokesman said.
Ms Maskell added: ‘The Government has failed to develop comprehensive flood defence schemes in places like Leeds and it is vital that every pound that the UK could access to protect communities is fought for. It is simply not good enough for them to say that the £250m was sufficient because the flood victims have a very different story to tell.’