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Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge for action on floods insurance after Devon visit

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 28, 2012

  • Prime Minister David Cameron listens as Buckfast-leigh resident Musky Kendall explains how the floods quickly rose inside her house Picture: Ben Birchall

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David Cameron has promised to take a "tough approach" on negotiations with insurers over homes in danger of flooding.

Speaking after he met householders in Buckfastleigh, Devon, which was struck by flash flooding at the weekend, the Prime Minister insisted a deal could be done to ensure universal flood cover remains in place.

High risk properties are at risk of not having any insurance at all when a deal struck in 2000 between the then Labour government and industry ends next summer.

As witnessed in the last week, the Westcountry peninsula is particularly susceptible to flooding thanks to its long coastlines and steep valleys.

The Government has been in talks for two years but as yet an agreement has not been reached. "I'm sure we will do a deal," Mr Cameron said. "We are in negotiations at the moment.

"We need to take a tough approach frankly and it's important insurance companies do what they are meant to, which is provide insurance to households and we are going to make sure that happens."

Communities across Devon and Cornwall continued to count the cost of storm damage and flooding after being remorselessly battered over recent days.

Yesterday afternoon there were still 25 flood warnings and 40 flood alerts in place across the South West.

Under the so-called "statement of principles", insurers have a deal with the Government whereby firms agree to provide affordable insurance for those in high flood risk areas in return for state investment in protection. But the deal, which expires in June, is at risk following cuts to flood defence spending.

Mr Cameron said he was determined to reach an agreement. "I am personally involved," he said.

"(Cabinet Office Minister) Oliver Letwin is doing this negotiation on my behalf.

"The current situation we have lasts until the middle of next year and we have some time to sort it out.

"But I want to get it sorted. I've seen myself in my own constituency the difficulty people have when they can't get insurance.

"It's not just it makes them feel unsafe in their own home but they can't sell their own home, so it's very important we get this sorted on their behalf."

Mr Cameron, who flew into the South West by helicopter, paid tribute to communities hit by the deluge.

He said: "It is obviously very traumatic when communities are hit by flooding like this but what I found are people are incredibly steadfast and have behaved incredibly bravely at handling the flood and now we need to help them with the recovery.

"We have to make sure their insurance pays out, make sure the Environment Agency puts in place good flood defences, make sure there are better warning schemes."

Mr Cameron also visited recently-built flood defences on the River Dart in Devon, which have helped protect the local area from worse flooding.

The Prime Minister defended his Government's record on providing flood defences despite a cut in the budget.

"We are spending over £2 billion on flood defences over the current four-year period, which is 6% less than was spent over the last four years," he said.

"But as well as that, we are actually encouraging private and other money into flood defences and making sure they are more efficient as we build them.

"I am quite convinced we are going to provide flood defences for another extra 145,000 homes over the period ahead and that's very important."

In a Commons debate on Monday, the region's MPs raised concerns over insurance. Liberal Democrat Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay) said Cornwall that have been "devastated again and face the risk of not being able to get insurance".

But Tory Sarah Newton (Truro and Falmouth) praised a new programme that defended homes and businesses in Truro from flooding, despite the fact Cornwall "suffered terribly".

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

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  • conundrum  |  November 28 2012, 7:05PM

    So despite Mr Cameron being responsible for setting in motion the privatisation of the NHS, asset stripping the public sector, targeting the poor and disabled with cuts and basically making the majority of us pay for a crisis that was caused by a minority of very wealthy individuals, whom he rewards with tax breaks, he still thinks we're all gullible enough to actually believe that he really does care about ordinary people who are in distress through no fault of their own. Another cynical photo opportunity for him, hypocrisy and contempt for the rest of us. Truly sickening. But anyway, let's not worry, because after all: talks have only been going on for two years and those of us who've been affected can certainly rely on this Government to stand up to the insurance companies on our behalf, can't we....?

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