GOVERNMENT funding for flood defences has fallen by £113 million since 2010, a York MP has claimed after challenging a minister on the issue.
Hugh Bayley, who represents York Central, said details provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had shown spending on flood protection in England dropped from £646 million in 2010-11 to £533 million this year, despite claims by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson last month that this Government was spending more on anti-flooding measures than any previous Government.
Mr Bayley said “catastrophic” recent floods had heightened public interest in “accurate and trustworthy figures” on expenditure being provided, and the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority had agreed Government funding for flood defences was now expected to be lower than before.
He questioned whether Defra could now be relied upon to produce such figures and has called for the authority to take over their publication.
Mr Paterson repeated his assertion that flood protection spending had risen when questioned by Mr Bayley in the House of Commons, saying the Government was spending £2.3 billion and that this was more than any previous administration.
Mr Bayley said the independent Commons library had confirmed departmental spending on flood defences between 2011 and 2015 would be lower than it was between 2007 and 2011.
He also said the UK Statistics Authority chairman Sir Andrew Dilnot had confirmed flood expenditure was expected to be lower during this period. Mr Bayley said: “The current Government say spending is at record levels, but the actual figures show they have cut the money for flood defences.
“Mr Paterson has been playing with figures and this has been confirmed by both the House of Commons LIbrary and the UK Statistics Authority. I agree with Sir Andrew Dilnot that the in-house figures from Defra are not believable and should, in future, be quality-controlled and published by the UK Statistics Authority.”
Defra did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.