Research into drying homes as families face xmas in caravans

Floods recovery minister John Healey has vowed to tackle insurers who have failed to get flood victims back into their own homes.

“I will personally take up any insurance problems these families have directly with industry chiefs,” he said yesterday.

And he said he had started a study to bring together everything known about how to quickly dry out flooded buildings.

The Communities and Local Government minister said 100 families were returning home each week and more than 19 out of every 20 households displaced by the 2007 summer floods will be back in their homes for Christmas.

But Healey is still concerned about families facing a second Christmas in caravans. He is linking up with council leaders in Hull, East Riding and Tewkesbury - the worst affected areas - with a fresh offer of support for these families and said he would tackle problem insurers.

All council and housing association tenants across the country are back home, the minister said.

Around 10% of affected households are living partly or entirely in caravans. Despite the much wider scale flooding last summer, progress compares well with the 2005 floods in Carlisle where one in ten displaced households were still not back after 18 months.

In most cases there are reasons why the return home has been held up including families opting for extra building work on top of repairs, discovery of pre-existing damp problems, repairs being done before properties are properly dried out, problems with rogue builders or lack of home insurance. But the minister said he still had to work with the insurance industry to ensure outstanding issues were resolved as quickly as possible.

"I am especially concerned about families facing a second Christmas in caravans. That's why I am linking up with council leaders in the worst affected areas to offer fresh help for these families. This includes a personal visit from a council official to explain what help is available, caravan safety checks, advice dealing with rogue builders and up to £200 per family to help with energy costs over the winter. And I will personally take up any insurance problems these families have directly with industry chiefs,” he said.