‘Not a national emergency’ was the page one headline when Boris Johnson played down the scale of damage before making a belated visit to Doncaster to meet victims.
As such, it is only right to acknowledge the review that Defra has now launched into the provision of flood insurance in order to better understand why so many homeowners and businesses had no cover when their life’s work was left in ruins. It will centre on the Don Valley.
Given the magnitude of the unfolding coronavirus tragedy, it would not have been the greatest surprise if this inquiry had been overlooked by Environment Secretary George Eustice.
But the fact that it is still proceeding reaffirms the view that Mr Eustice has achieved far more in just over two months than his predecessor Theresa Villiers managed during her entire tenureship.
And it is also an acceptance that the Flood Re scheme, launched in 2016 to provide affordable cover in areas prone to flooding, is not working as intended. If it was “a bona fide system”, the claim made Mr Eustice’s deputy Rebecca Pow when pressed in Parliament by disgruntled Tory and Labour MPs from South Yorkshire, there would not have been stories across the county – and wider country – of families and businesses literally losing everything because they were uninsured.
Their recovery was going to be a long one before Covid-19 struck. And given the threat of flooding will exist long after the pandemic has passed, they will gain some reassurance from the fact that their plight has not been entirely forgotten – and that the Environment Secretary wants the inquiry published in September.
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