And the rain comes tumbling down.
The floods in Cumbria show once again the impact climate change is having on the world’s weather. It has always been evident that the rain will come once more, the waters will rise and people’s lives will be devastated. It has been estimated that 6,425 homes were impacted upon by the flood waters, leaving 1400 people homeless, with costs being estimated to be between £400m and £500m.
The Tory Government’s woeful spending on flood defences came under severe criticism when it emerged that a prevention scheme for the Cumbrian town of Kendal has been postponed on numerous occasions. Kendal was submerged by up to 1.5 metres of water after the storm.
The National Audit Office concluded that funding fell 10% in real terms during the coalition and the government’s own climate change advisers have warned of a £500m hole in spending. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, has highlighted a £115m fall in spending on flood risk management this year alone.
This leaves the Environment Agency in the unenviable position of re-appraising schemes, undertaking a cost/benefit analysis and having to decide on who gets the protection first. In reality they have to set a higher bar, cutting out hundreds of schemes not based on any logic apart from the lack of funds.
Liz Truss, the environment secretary may claim that the Tories are not cutting spending on flood defences. But in fact that is what they are doing – placing lives and homes at risk on the basis of their warped ideology of neoliberalist austerity cuts.
Also, what Truss doesn’t acknowledge it is that government is reliant on the private sector to fill the £350m funding gap in the budget. This situation will worsen as the Department for Rural Affairs is having to cut its budget by a further 15% by 2020. It is time to end austerity and it is time to end risking peoples lives and communities on an ideological dogma.