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Council unveils plans for worst-hit flood victims to receive extra financial help

Residents whose homes were most affected by recent flooding could get extra funding under arrangements being unveiled today.

Wyre Forest District Council wants to direct extra help to those whose homes were damaged by internal flooding as a result of recent Storms Ciara and Dennis.

The council qualifies for a Community Recovery Grant under the Government’s Flood Recovery Framework which is calculated at £500 per property affected. “Affected” properties includes both homes that have been flooded internally and properties that were not damaged but temporarily inaccessible to residents.

Across Wyre Forest around 110 residential properties and about 35 businesses are known to have suffered internal flooding. Residents in another 200 residential properties – the vast majority of which are caravans – also had to evacuate for a period because of river levels.

On 18 February, the Government announced that it was implementing the Flood Recovery Framework to provide funding to councils where 25 or more households had been flooded.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s framework calculates the overall grants at the equivalent to £500 per household either flooded or made “unliveable” as a result of the flooding but gives councils discretion to decide how to allocate the grant to meet local needs.

Wyre Forest District Council has decided to prioritise households that have suffered internal flooding and are likely to face much higher costs and inconvenience in getting their homes back to normal. These may be able to qualify for more financial help than the flat rate of £500. Exact details of financial support for those who have been flooded will vary depending on individual circumstances and agreed in consultation with claimants.

Council Leader Councillor Graham Ballinger said: “We recognise the utter devastation being faced by those whose homes were flooded internally – residents who have lost furniture and property and facing clean up costs that could far outstrip £500. We think it only right that these people should be able to receive more support, compared to those who suffered the inconvenience of having to leave their homes for a few days

“We want to direct some of the Government grant we will receive to making the district more resilient and we will be looking at measures we can support to protect homes and businesses from future flooding incidents.

“We will also be talking to groups representing businesses in Bewdley and Stourport-on-Severn on what steps we could take as part of our Community Recovery Fund to encourage visitors to the two towns in the next few weeks. The towns remain open for business and we are keen to support them as a whole in their economic recovery from the flooding.”

Wyre Forest District Council has already announced it will give 100% council tax discount for a minimum of three months, or longer if flood water entered the home, or the home was otherwise considered unliveable for any period of time, and a 100% council tax discount on temporary accommodation for anyone unable to return to their home.

The council announced on 20 February that it would implement the council tax discount and business rates relief for qualifying properties immediately and this has been done in the vast majority of cases by reducing bills to zero for the first three months of 2020-21. This is because most householders pay their council tax by direct debit in 10 instalments, the last of which was collected in January.

The council will also give flooded companies 100% relief from business rates, or longer if the business is unable to resume trading from the property. The relief provided will be subject to state aid limits and will only be available to properties with a rateable value less than £10m.

Affected companies will also receive a Business Recovery Grant. This grant will provide financial support to aid the recovery of local businesses. Local authorities will receive grant funding of £2,500 per eligible business. Eligible businesses will be small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which have suffered severe impacts from the floods that cannot be recovered from insurance.

DEFRA has announced that Property Flood Resilience Scheme grants of up to £5,000 will be made available through local authorities to help homes and businesses to become more resilient to flooding by helping to pay for a range of property improvements. In Wyre Forest this scheme will be administered by the district council through the North Worcestershire Water Management shared service.