Norwich Union (NU) has stepped up pressure on the government to increase flood defence spending with the launch of a campaign to help property owners establish their own local flood action groups.

The "Home and Dry" campaign was prompted by a survey on behalf of NU that showed three out of four people felt let down by the government's flood prevention policies.

The survey also showed that, although 70% of people thought they could make a difference by lobbying in their area, over a third did not know how to lobby their local MPs and the government.

NU head of household products Nick Pierson said: "The power of these individuals and small groups should not be underestimated - if their voices are heard by the right people, they have the potential to be very influential."

The launch came on a day in which 74 flood warnings were in place, and people in Yorkshire were forced to abandon their homes after heavy rains.

NU's campaign provides residents and businesses with the information they need about starting a local flood action group, contacting and working with local MPs and practical tips on what to do in the event of a flood.

NU market development manager Chris Elliott said the Environment Agency had predicted the flood risk would be ten times greater in the next 100 years. Two million properties are already at risk of flooding in England.

"We have to keep pace with the level of risk by, first, increasing spending and, second, having good planning controls to stop new properties being built on flood plains," he said.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said any initiative that further rammed home the insurance industry's concerns about flooding had to be welcomed.

He added that the government's summer spending review should reveal the amount set aside for flood defence spending. The ABI has called for a rise in annual spending of £145m. Officially, flood and coastal defence spending currently stands at £400m per year. That is expected to rise to £450m per year in 2003/2004.