Fears over flood cover

CONCERNS have been raised over the lack of progress on a new flood insurance deal.

The Statement of Principles between the insurance industry and the Government, which ensures residents in flood-risk areas can continue to get cover, is due to end in June.

But still no deal has been struck to set up new arrangements.

The Herald reported last month that Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery had spoken of the need for action in a House of Commons debate.

Now Morpeth Town Council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee has echoed the concerns.

Chairman David Parker said: “We are aware that the deadline is June 30 and something needs to be done about it. It is interesting that members of all three major parties and the minor parties agree and there is a general consensus.

“We have got to have a scheme and it has got to provide affordable insurance. It should even be better than the present scheme so that it is universal and applies to everybody equally.

“We are aware that there are thousands of people out there who will really need this, some of whom are having their insurance coming up for renewal now. Some of them are already finding it difficult and I have reason to believe that at least one person in Morpeth has had insurance refused.”

A Morpeth Flood Insurance Working Group, including the town council, Morpeth Flood Action Group and the Chamber of Trade, drew up a proposal for a scheme to spread the risk of flooding across all policyholders, with a community flood levy.

The Association of British Insurers has suggested a similar scheme, with a temporary overdraft facility provided by the Government, but so far nothing has been agreed.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Richard Benyon has said there must be a deal to ensure affordable and available flood insurance and the Government is committed to negotiations.

But Coun Parker is concerned that there is still no agreement in place.

“I don’t know what we can do because the Government is aware of the pressure and I don’t see that we could apply much more. We have been promised some sort of statement for the last six months, if not nine months, but that statement has still not been made,” he said.

“Come June 30, unless there is a deal, the insurance industry will apply the flood risk to each individual customer. There could even be a distinction between number one in the street and number three. It won’t be a postcode lottery, it will be a household one.”