Angry flood victims say the Government has not done enough to protect them – and they fear things will not improve despite the turmoil.
Little over 1% of Government infrastructure spending in England will be for flood defences, figures have revealed.
A third of the money is earmarked for London and the South East.
Funding must be reallocated to northern England to help cope with the increased risks of extreme weather, according to MPs there.
As he swept water out of his home in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, amid Storm Dennis, Dominic Boffin said: “We’ve had no help with the clean-up, and when it comes to the town being repeatedly flooded, everyone seems to have their head in the sand.”
Appleby was also badly hit in 2015. The then-Prime Minister David Cameron said flood defences in Cumbria “were not enough”.
Speaking now, cafe owner James Brighurst said that – despite the promises – no new defences had been built.
He added: “We’ve seen a few subsidies for some individual buildings in the town but nothing has changed dramatically.
"There is a feeling we are being ignored and forgotten”.
Cumbria has had three “one in 200-year” storm events in the past 10 years, according to former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.
He said: “We know the climate is changing, and we also know the climate is changing with the most impact here in the North West of England.
“It is odd the Government has chosen to spend so much money on London and the South East, and so little on the North. It’s also staggering that we’re spending so little money on flood defences altogether.”
More than 500 homes were flooded in Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire when Storm Ciara hit a week ago.
At least 200 of the properties were in Mytholmroyd – a West Yorkshire village that, like many in the area, is still recovering from the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015.
A £35million defence scheme, started after those 2015 floods, is due to be completed there this summer.
As 75 soldiers from the 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, arrived to build temporary defences, Calderdale council leader Tim Swift said: “This extra resource couldn’t be more welcome to support already exhausted communities.”
Parts of Yorkshire have been hit three times in eight years. Caroline Douglass, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “With the effects of climate change, we are seeing more frequent periods of extreme weather.”
Julie Foley, director of flood risk strategy for the EA, warned £1billion needs to be invested annually for the next 50 years “just to keep the risk levels as they are”.
She added: “There is a lot of focus around parts of Yorkshire and the Calder Valley, particularly following Storm Ciara.
“Our track record in investing in flood defences is very good – by March of next year we will have better protected 300,000 properties in England alone.”
She said £2.7billion has been invested in defences in recent years.
The Government says new measures protected 25,000 homes from being flooded by Storm Ciara. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said investment is based on where it is most needed, with the intention of helping “as many people as possible and to get the best outcome for every pound we spend”.
Defra said its figures showed that between 2015 and 2021, investment per home at risk of flooding was equivalent to £700 in the North, compared with £335 in the South.
Meanwhile, the latest figures published by the Treasury show almost £5billion earmarked for flood defences in England over the next six years.
It is 1.5% of the total £317billion spending on all infrastructure, which includes upgrading roads. The investment plans were revealed as areas across the country – including Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire and the New Forest in Hampshire – were under water as Storm Dennis raged.
York Central MP Rachael Maskell said the Government has already failed to keep previous commitments to upgrade flood defences in the cathedral city.
She said: “Promises broken and programmes undelivered...
“We have also seen a lack of delivery when it comes to issues like insurance and even putting in extra flood resilience measures within the city.”