Copeland MP, Jamie Reed has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government urging the Government to do more to support businesses affected by recent flooding.
He has asked the Government to clarify guidance on the Bellwin Scheme; a scheme to allow Local Authorities to offer council tax relief and business rates relief to those affected by flooding. Jamie Reed has demanded that the Government provide support to the local council so that this relief can be offered to businesses that were not directly affected by flood waters but are still counting the costs.
Many businesses in Keswick and surrounding communities are reliant on tourism, but the damage to key roads including the A591 caused by the flooding means many tourists simply can’t get there.
The Copeland MP’s letter also repeats his call for a dedicated Cumbria Resilience and Infrastructure Commission to learn the lessons of recent experiences to ensure that communities can withstand the effects of prolonged severe weather in the future.
Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:
“Disruption, devastation and pain is felt way beyond the high-water mark of flood waters. Many businesses are counting the costs of the flooding as damage to key roads, including the A591, means that the number of visitors is down.
“The affects of flooding are felt far beyond where the water ends and the Government must recognise this when it comes to supporting flood-hit communities such as Keswick and other places.
“The Government must now give support to local authorities to enable them to give relief to hard-hit businesses.”
The full text of Jamie Reed MP’s Letter to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:
The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Department for Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street
25 January 2016
Dear Secretary of State
Cumbria Floods: Business Rate Relief for Affected Businesses
Over recent months, families, homes and businesses have faced devastation and disruption caused by the severe weather of Storm Desmond. The community spirit on display has been a testament to the resilience of those affected, but many are still desperate for assistance. The generous spirit of many communities throughout the country has been demonstrated with fundraising efforts and I wish to place on record my thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly during this difficult period.
As you will no doubt be aware, there are many people that have been directly affected by the flooding. This includes a significant number of businesses that are counting the costs; not only as a result of the damage caused by flooding, but also the loss of earnings as a result. We all know that the impact of floods far extends past the high-water mark of the floods. The damage to the A591 during the severe weather means that many businesses, especially those reliant on tourists, are struggling despite not being hit by the flood water directly.
That the A591 won’t be reopened until May is incredibly disappointing and means that tourists will be unable to access many destinations within Cumbria over the Easter weekend and other public holidays. This will have a profound impact on businesses. As a result of this, are you able to clarify the guidance around the Bellwin Scheme. As you will be aware, businesses affected by flooding by the 2014 flooding we able to claim business rate relief and this covered businesses that were directly and indirectly affected by flooding. I understand that it is for billing authorities to decide when relief should be offered, but local authorities need reassurance from Government that this can be recovered under the Bellwin Scheme. Government must provide local authorities with the resources they need to ensure those businesses affected by flooding are able to get back on their feet.
Businesses not afflicted by water damage are still counting the costs of the devastation caused by the flooding. It is crucial that as businesses are hit by damage to key infrastructure they get the support they need to get through this difficult period. This also further emphasises the need for a dedicated Cumbria Resilience and Infrastructure Commission to evaluate how our infrastructure can be made more resilient and robust. Only by properly evaluating the challenges we are facing now will we be able to respond effectively the next time severe weather hits Cumbria.
I look forward to your response.
Jamie Reed MP