Dramatic budget cuts in government flood spending have been thwarted by the Department for Environ- ment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Defra allocated £661.5m of its £1bn budget for 2007/ 2008 to the Environment Agency (EA).

Of that, the EA is to spend £436m on flood management, including building and maintaining defences as well as work on forecasting and flood warnings.

The government faced heavy criticism for slashing the EA's flood defence maintenance budget by £15m for 2006/2007. The ABI responded by calling for sustained investment in the UK's flood spending. The trade association said spending on flood defences alone must rise to £750m by 2011 to mitigate the growing threat.

Secretary of State for environment, food and rural affairs David Miliband insisted that the government recognised the threat flooding posed on UK property and insurers. He said £4.5bn had been invested across England on flood and coastal erosion measures since 1996.

Defra is to spend £1.5m on a series of studies aimed at looking at ways to prevent flooding. One project aims to look at how planting trees can help cuts risks associated with flooding.