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UK Government Proposes Tax Increases To Improve Drainage

Tax Increases Looked At In Order To Improve Drainage

New proposals to increase council tax to pay for flood defence improvements, but what about the bigger picture?

The recent floods that have hit Britain have raised many questions over what should be done in order to prevent such devastation from happening again. Some of the worst hit regions within the United Kingdom are being looked at by the British Government and could be hit with increased council tax bills in order to pay for improving flood defences.

Lack of investment has been blamed for the way in which counties such as Somerset were overwhelmed by the heavy rainfall experienced in the region, so the government are looking to raise money to begin putting things right. The Somerset River Authority has commissioned work on their flood defences and the target figure is expected to be somewhere in the region of £2.7 million.

Local Government Looking For Funding

Gathering the money came closer to becoming a reality when the local government finance settlement for 2016/2017 was announced back in December of last year. Included inside the document was a provision that would allow the government to set alternative notional figures when calculating council tax amounts.

This will give the local government the option of setting a shadow precept of 1.25 per cent should the aforementioned Somerset Rivers Authority be installed as a precepting body. This precept will be used solely for the purpose of funding the flood defence improvements laid out by the Somerset Rivers Authority, but it will have to be agreed by councils across Somerset before it can be implemented.

Flooding Raises Many Questions

The extensive flooding that has been seen across the UK in recent years is raising more questions than answers at present. It seems as though the flooding is happening largely in areas traditionally seen as wetlands, so why hasn’t there been more protection given to these regions if they are already seen as being high risk?

Somerset is a great example of this. This rural county has many areas that were considered for a long time to be too wet to settle on, which is why the dry areas of Glastonbury and Brent Knoll have such a long history of settlement when compared to much of the rest of the county.

Building on floodplains, too, has come into question. With an ever expanding population, the likelihood is that more and more developments will be made on areas of high risk over the coming years, but is this really wise? Not only does it put the inhabitants of such new regions at an extremely high risk, but it also increases the chance of flooding elsewhere. This is largely because the water that once would have settled in the newly developed areas will run further and faster, causing widespread problems in the surrounding areas.

While investment is clearly needed in these hard hit areas, it is surprising that it has taken repeated problems to bring the issue to the fore. Hopefully, future planning will take the lessons learnt over recent months and years into consideration when putting forward proposals for new developments in such obviously high risk areas.

About The Author

Fraser Ruthven is the Marketing Associate for London Drainage Facilities, one of London’s leading drainage companies. London Drainage provides a wide range of drainage diagnostic and repair services in and around London.