Back in the summer of 2014, CAG Consultants, along with HaskoningDHV and Databuild, were commissioned by Defra to carry out an evaluation of the arrangements for managing flood risk in England. Some time has passed since our final report was completed the following summer. However, in the absence of any major changes to the practice of local flood risk management, and following the major floods of winter 2015, the findings of the evaluation are more relevant than ever.
In Part 1, I outlined the purpose and scope of the evaluation, and summarised what we found in terms of how well local councils are delivering their statutory responsibilities in relation to local flood risk management.
In Part 2, I summarised what we found in terms of the practice of local flood risk management.
In this post, I summarise what we found in terms of the costs and funding of local flood risk management
In part 4, I’ll summarise our conclusions.
In part 5, I’ll highlight some of the key considerations for improving local flood risk management.
These reflections are drawn from the evaluation report, which is Crown Copyright (Defra). To view the report itself, click here.
Funding and costs
The Flood & Water Management Act resulted in a significant injection of funding for local flood risk management between 2011/12 and 2014/15. This funding was not ring-fenced but approximately 60% of LLFAs (based on self-reported figures) spent all of the money on local flood risk management activities. The evaluation found that:
- The Flood & Water Management Act had levered in additional funding for local flood risk management;
- The statutory responsibilities associated with the Flood & Water Management Act had also, to some degree, helped to shield local flood risk management activity from council budget cuts;
- The increased cooperation and collaboration between risk management authorities was perceived to have been leading to more efficiency and effectiveness in the spending of the available funding;
- However, many LLFAs reported finding the funding situation challenging, particularly because of the level of bureaucracy associated with bids for Government funding (Flood Defence Grant in Aid) and the challenges reported in securing revenue funding for feasibility studies to get schemes through the funding process.
The limited costs data available suggested that:
- Strategies may have been significantly less expensive to develop than Defra anticipated. The Defra impact assessment assumed that there would be significant input from specialist contractors and this had not always been the case;
- Flood investigations had proven more costly than anticipated;
- The costs of developing asset registers varied significantly, depending on the context (nature, extent and complexity of the drainage network), the level of existing data held by the LLFA and the scope and level of detail adopted by the LLFA; and
- The costs of performing the consenting role significantly outstripped the fees which LLFAs could charge to applicants.
In spite of the increased resource available, concerns about funding and in-house capacity remained the most significant concerns among LLFA staff in terms of their ability to manage local flood risk in future years. These concerns were shared by many external stakeholders.
Click here for Part 4, which summarises our conclusions from the evaluation.
And please add your thoughts and comments below. Do these findings tally with your experience? How have things moved on since summer 2015?