The ABI is calling on the government to maintain spending levels on flood defences until at least 2010.

In a submission to the Treasury, the ABI warned against a real terms cut if billions of pounds worth of housing in the UK is to be protected.

ABI head of household and property Jane Milne said: "You can always make a case for more money, but we are trying to be realistic. While education and health will be the priorities, we want to make sure that flooding is not forgotten."

The 2002 spending review promised an increase in funding of £150m by 2005/06, taking the total annual spend to £564m.

According to the ABI, maintaining this level of investment could enable the majority of properties currently unprotected to be dealt with.

However, the submission goes on to warn: "These figures may well need to be revised upwards as more information on the state of defences and impact of climate change becomes available."

Two government reports, The National Assessment of Defence Needs and Costs and the Foresight Flood and Coastal Defence Project, are due to be published this month.

Milne said: "We are expecting the reports to confirm the idea that flooding is going to get worse and that we have to start dealing with this problem now."

The ABI also repeated its call for greater clarity on where funding will come from. Current spending plans split costs between Defra and local government. But in 2005/06 the plans include a £20m "new funding stream", which remains undefined.

Milne said: "We still want to know where this money will be coming from."