As forecasts suggest that more torrential rain is on its way, the Government has announced that flood-hit properties in Cumbria and Lancashire, which have endured the worst of the weather brought by Storm Desmond, are to be given tax relief.
The 5,000 or so homes and businesses affected by flooding will not have to pay council tax or business rates until they are back in their properties, which might be some time in the future if the severe weather predicted hits.
The financial help was agreed during a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency meeting, which was chaired by Liz Truss, Secretary for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Ministers were told at the meeting that the situation on the ground was improving following the record rainfall seen at the weekend, but that emergency services remain on “high alert” because of the possibility of further wet weather in the days to come.
The storms has already destroyed bridges, walls, roads and buildings and drowned hundred of animals in Cumbria, where an estimated 341mm of rain – the equivalent of more than a month’s worth normally – fell in just 24 hours.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for urgent action from the Government, saying it should help those repairing the damage and create a resilient infrastructure. The organisation is also considering the long-term effects of the flooding.
As a spokesman for the NFU said, the union is strongly urging support for its members with fallen stock disposal, who require urgent repair to flood-damaged property and help with feed delivery and milk collection.
It has been estimated that the damage caused by Storm Desmond could be in the region of £400m to £500m, with the insurance industry set to pay out up to £325m.