More investment is needed to tackle the permanent insecurity faced by farmers and landowners in flood-hit communities, Labour leader Keir Starmer has warned.
Failure to invest in adequate infrastructure is putting livelihoods at risk, Sir Keir told last month’s NFU annual conference. A Labour government would introduce a British Recovery Bond to provide funding for local communities, jobs and infrastructure of the future, he said.
Sir Keir said he recently visited South Yorkshire to see how people were rebuilding their lives following the 2019 floods. Families who had seen their homes destroyed and businesses closed were still trying to get back on their feet more than a year later, he said.
“Their resilience was amazing. But what shocked me most was that many of those families had come to accept that every few years this kind of thing could happen. That creates a permanent insecurity – and huge damage to local economies.”
A different strategy was needed, said Sir Keir. Flooding should be seen as a crisis to prevent rather than an emergency to respond to year after year. Recovery bonds could be used to build the sort of infrastructure Britain would need in the decades to come.
“That can only happen if you have a government willing to invest in the long-term, and to work with businesses, farmers, landowners and local communities to build the infrastructure necessary to provide security and certainty.”
Long-term, environmental funding targeted at areas starved of government money for a decade could help build security, resilience and prosperity for the future. “This has to be a recovery that works for all parts of the economy and all parts of our country.”
The government says it has invested £2.6bn to better protect the country from flooding and coastal erosion between 2015 and 2021. It says this has delivered more than 1,000 flood and coastal defence schemes to better protect 300,000 homes across England.