The prospect of additional funding to assist flood-hit communities around the country with clean-up costs was boosted this morning when Alex Cunningham secured a pledge from the Government that an application to the European Union Solidarity Fund will now be made.
For nearly three months, despite proclaiming a willingness to provide support and assistance, the Government failed make such an application. MPs and their constituents were left completely in the dark as it appeared the Government would fail to make an application to the fund established to respond to precisely such natural disasters as those experienced in Cumbria, Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Scotland.
It took the Stockton North MP, in his role as Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment, to apply for an Urgent Question in the House of Commons to finally secure such a commitment from the Government.
Responsibility for acknowledging that the Government could do more, and for confirming that an application for European Union funding has been assessed as likely to be of net benefit to the UK, fell to the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse.
Speaking after the Urgent Question, Alex said:
“It should never have been necessary to drag a Minister to the Despatch Box, just days before the deadline, to announce that the Government has bowed to pressure and is applying for this vital help for our flood hit communities. The months of confusion and foot-dragging by the Government have been extremely worrying, so today’s announcement is welcome.
“Suggestions that support will hit the UK’s rebate and that lengthy delays will hinder any relief work demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the process. With up to ten per cent of any allocation made potentially being available upfront, tens of millions of pounds could be available within weeks to help pay for clean-up costs and the rebuilding of vital infrastructure.
“The Government must now act swiftly to make sure that this much needed additional assistance is available to those communities devastated by flooding as soon as possible.”