WORK is under way to ensure affordable flood insurance will be available to at-risk homes, a Government Minister has said.
Assurances have been given by Agriculture and Food Minister Jim Paice that the Government is in talks with the insurance industry about the issue.
And an industry-led levy to spread the costs more widely is among the ideas being considered.
Mr Paice said: “We are considering a number of options, including an industry-led levy, which would allow policy-holders in high flood-risk areas to continue to secure affordable insurance without having an impact on bills more generally since it would reflect existing pricing arrangements.
“Our priority now is to resolve detailed design issues, including how support would be targeted. We are looking to develop with insurers a model that delivers benefits to households in need of support while avoiding poorer policy-holders subsidising wealthier ones, and encouraging people to consider the actions they can take to keep future premiums down.
“Action taken by communities, individuals, Government and businesses to reduce flood risk will be the best way of keeping insurance terms affordable into the future.”
The comments were given in response to a letter by Morpeth and Wansbeck Conservative Association Chairman David Bawn, seeking an update on the situation following further flooding last month.
He said: “Morpeth residents should find it reassuring that work is ongoing at the highest levels to put concrete measures in place to control the cost of insuring our homes.
“It is so important to make sure that the burden of rising insurance costs is shared so that poorer householders do not end up subsidising wealthier ones.
“Areas of Morpeth risk becoming ghost towns if lower cost housing becomes unaffordable due to rising insurance premiums. This would devastate our local economy.”
The Statement of Principles, which was agreed between the industry and the Government to ensure people in flood-risk areas could still secure insurance cover, is due to end in June next year.
A Morpeth flood insurance working group was established by Morpeth Town Council, the Morpeth Flood Action Group and the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade following reports of rising premiums and excesses on policies after the 2008 flood.
The group’s model for all policyholders to contribute to a community flood levy has attracted national praise.