Spending review earmarks £2bn for flooding over four years

The government has announced cuts to the flood defence budget.

The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), unveiled today by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, says that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is earmarking £2bn for flood defence over the next four years. The Treasury document outlining the CSR says the £2bn will protect a total of 145,000 homes.

Flood defence spending for the current financial year is a record £790m, having risen sharply over recent years.

The Treasury’s CSR document says: “Defra will focus spending on areas of high economic value. The settlement therefore provides for £2bn to be spent on flood and coastal defences over the Spending Review period, better protecting 145,000 households by 2014-15.”

The document also says that the Environment Agency and the Efficiency and Reform Group is reviewing existing flood defence procurement strategies in a bid to secure efficiency savings of 15% on flood capital investment by 2014-15- the final year of the CSR period.


Bank levy

Meanwhile, in his statement to Parliament, Osborne said the Government's aim was to “extract the maximum” tax from financial services. It will start by placing a permanent levy on banks.

He said: "Many hundreds of thousands of jobs across the whole United Kingdom depend on Britain being a competitive place for financial services.

"Our aim will be to extract the maximum sustainable tax revenues from financial services. We will assess what those maximum revenues could be – not just in one year, but over a period of years.

"We have already decided – in the face of opposition from the previous government – to introduce a permanent levy on banks. The legislation will be published tomorrow.

"Once fully effective, the permanent levy will raise more net each year and every year for the Exchequer than the one-year bonus tax did last year – and I note that the previous Chancellor now admits that it failed to curb behaviour and was not sustainable."

Retirement age rises

Other developments in the CSR include a rise in the retirement age for men and women from 65 to 66 by 2020. Osborne said there would be a gradual increase in the State Pension Age from 65 to 66, starting in 2018. The government hopes it will save an estimated £5bn a year.