Warnings rarely come starker than this.
With the summer statement set to be released tomorrow (Wednesday), Zurich Insurance has called for urgent action to help communities preparing for the worst – suggesting that the UK is at risk of a “double disaster” faced with flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company believes that as many as 3.5 million households are at risk of extreme weather and wants the government to reform its £5,000 flood resilience grant scheme to help homeowners make proactive improvements to their properties.
“Hundreds of thousands of households have been left more vulnerable as a result of the worst public health crisis in a generation,” said Laura McAlpine, Zurich’s head of public affairs. “Even relatively minor flooding would place disproportionate strain on people’s jobs, finances and mental health. If towns are hit by flooding in the coming months, the impact would be magnified, with particularly severe consequences for the most vulnerable in society.
“The scheme is ineffective as property owners can only access the grants after a flood, when the damage has already been done. Households also face a ‘postcode lottery’, as the funding only applies in areas designated by the government after a flood event. The grants should be made available all year round to help people in high flood risk areas protect their homes before flooding strikes. This is a ‘shovel-ready’ project that would support the government’s green economic recovery and provide a vital boost for local construction jobs.”
In addition, the insurer believes the government should review and reform building regulations to create “resilience standards” for the construction industry to follow when flooded homes are reinstated.
Its statements come on the back of multiple summer floods in recent years – back in July 2007, a summer flood is estimated to have cost £3.2 billion alone.