Ministers clarify flood defence spending figures

Flooding

Related Stories

The government has been forced to clarify its claim to be spending more on flood defences than ever before.

Floods minister Dan Rogerson has admitted "some minor inconsistencies" in figures provided, adding that they have now been "rectified".

The amount of flood spending will reach a new high - but that is only if the government counts partnership funding from local councils.

Labour called the government's clarification "humiliating".

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has been under pressure on the issue after he repeatedly insisted that the coalition was spending money at a record level, a claim also made by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Paterson's deputy Mr Rogerson has published a clarification, saying: "Floods funding is complex, with a number of different income streams including government funding, local levies, and other contributions towards schemes.

"Further analysis has identified some minor inconsistencies in figures previously provided. I regret this was not presented in a consistent way, something I have now rectified."

The clarified figures confirm that, without the partnership funding, the government is spending £2.341 billion in the current spending review (2011-15), compared with £2.371 billion spent in 2007-11.

Only if ministers include a further £148m in partnership funding can the government claim it is spending more than Labour on floods.

Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle said: "It is humiliating for David Cameron and Owen Paterson that they have finally been forced to reveal that spending on flood protection was not protected when cuts to the Environment Department's budget were made.

"The prime minister must now stop repeating his misleading claim that more is being spent when these new figures reveal that is simply not true."

The disparity was pointed out by Friends of the Earth's Climate Campaigner Guy Shrubsole.

He said the corrected figures were "humiliating for both Paterson and Cameron who have been trumpeting how the government has increased spending on flood defences when the reality is that the budget's been cut".

Mr Shrubsole added: "The new figures raise difficult questions about the misleading information that the prime minister and environment secretary have provided to soothe both Parliament and the public.

"With millions of homes and business at risk from flooding they need to increase the budget and tackle the causes of climate change, which will increase the likelihood of more flooding."

A spokesman for Mr Paterson said: "The corrections do not change the headline figure which is that we are currently spending £2.3bn and that along with the £148m of contributions from partners this is more than was spent in the previous spending review period."

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Politics stories

RSS

Politics Live

  1.  
    Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: BBC Westminster Election Countdown Clock (err...whiteboard) crisis: someone's used a permanent marker again:

    bbc board
     
  2.  
    07:42: Carole Walker Political correspondent, BBC News
    Department of Health images of how standardised packaging may look

    The government is facing growing opposition from Conservative MPs over its plans to introduce standardised packaging on packets of cigarettes.

    Opponents believe as many as 100 Tories could vote against the plans which could become law before the general election.

    Ministers say MPs will have a free vote on the issue.

     
  3.  
    07:38: Taiwan watch gaffe
    susan kramer

    A UK government minister has had to apologise for giving a watch to the mayor of Taiwan's capital city, Taipei, without realising such gifts are taboo. Susan Kramer said she did not know giving clocks suggests time is running out for the person who receives it in Chinese culture, and said sorry.

     
  4.  
    07:31: Terror bill BBC Radio 4
    Graduates

    One of the vice chancellors who has written to the Times has been on the Today programme discussing universities' role in tackling extremism.

    On the government's plans to force them to report extremist activity, Professor Anthony Forster, of Essex University, said universities were at their most effective when they were "ensuring academics and students are free to question perceived wisdom within the law".

    He says the bill as it stands is not the best way to maximise universities' contribution.

     
  5.  
    07:28: Terror bill

    Should universities be obliged by law to prevent people being drawn into terrorism - for example by reporting extremist activity?

    That is part of the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill which is continuing to be debated during its committee stage in the House of Lords today. But a group of vice chancellors has written to the Times arguing that universities should be exempt.

     
  6.  
    07:21: Pensioner payments BBC Radio 4
    david cameron

    David Cameron's hint yesterday that pensioner benefits may continue to be protected despite the welfare cuts mooted for after the election also features in the newspapers. The prime minister told the BBC there were no "huge savings" to be made from restricting access to payments like the winter fuel allowance.

     
  7.  
    07:11: Councils hit by cuts
    council bin collection

    Elsewhere today, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee are warning that councils in the most deprived areas of England are being hit the hardest by funding cuts. They say in a report that government cuts have not been applied equally since 2010 - with local authorities in the poorest areas seeing the biggest reductions.

     
  8.  
    07:09: Burnham interview BBC Newsnight BBC Two, 22:30
    Andy Burnham

    As we've seen, Labour and the NHS are making some of this morning's headlines. The party's health spokesman Andy Burnham was on the BBC's Newsnight last night, setting out his plans for the service.

     
  9.  
    06:54: Key dates

    The parties have been ramping up their campaigns - with 99 days until people go to the polls. The BBC's Jo Coburn highlights some key dates between now and then.

     
  10.  
    06:42: Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: A couple of broadsheet front pages Labour would rather not see--following up #wato's Alan Milburn interview

    Newspapers
     
  11.  
    06:37: Making the headlines

    Former Health Secretary Alan Milburn's comments yesterday - in which he called for Ed Miliband to promise NHS reforms and compared Labour's campaign to the 1992 general election - feature on the front of the Times and the Daily Telegraph this morning.

     
  12.  
    06:29: Poll tracker

    The polls will be coming thick and fast in the coming months - keep up to date with the BBC's new interactive poll tracker, which lets you see the results of polls conducted by a range of organisations.

    The tracker also includes a timeline of key events, so you can see how public opinion might have shifted at important junctures in the past five years.

     
  13.  
    06:17: The day ahead
    David Cameron

    The big event today, as it is on most Wednesdays, is Prime Minister's Questions, which begins at noon in the House of Commons. There are, at most, only eight of these sessions left before the election so David Cameron and Ed Miliband will be more eager than ever to come out on top.

     
  14.  
    06:10: Good morning Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Hello and welcome to a fresh day's coverage of political developments ahead of the 7 May General Election - yes there's just 99 days to go now. You'll be able to listen or watch all the BBC's political output today on this page and we'll be bringing you all the best clips, quotes, analysis, reaction and breaking political news throughout the day. If you want to see what to expect, here's yesterday's campaign countdown.

     
  15.  

Features

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.