Support for the victims of flooding

Just weeks after the devastating storms battered various counties across the country, many individuals and businesses will be well under way with the process of trying to return their lives and businesses to something like normality. Unfortunately there are all too many people already well versed in dealing with such devastation and will have already made use of the support on offer, but it’s certainly worth re-iterating some of those lines of support available to individuals, voluntary and community groups and businesses affected by the floods.

Support for individuals, voluntary and community groups

The Government is providing local authorities with Community Grants as part of the Communities and Business Recovery Scheme. This will be equivalent to up to £500 per household affected by flooding. It will help with recovery costs such as provision of temporary accommodation. Some will receive this payment automatically but you should contact your local authority customer services if you need assistance to access this funding.

A household flood resilience grant scheme is also in operation to provide grants of up to £5,000 to homeowners to help fund additional flood resilience measures for your home. This is intended only to fund measures which improve the property’s resilience over and above the repairs that would normally be covered by insurance. You should check your eligibility and will be able to apply through your local authority.

Council tax relief will also be available to unoccupied and partly occupied properties. In a lot of instances this will also be applied automatically and include 100% discount for the period which the property remains uninhabitable or partly occupied but will be subject to a maximum period of time, in some cases, 12 months.

In Cumbria, the Cumbria Community Foundation launched the Cumbria Flood Recovery Appeal to raise funds to directly support individuals and families in hardship and vital community organisations. At the time of writing the appeal had already raised £4.2m and paid out over £800,000. Eligible individuals could get up to £2,000. Most grants for voluntary and community groups could be in the range of £5,000 - £15,000. For strategic, co-ordinated grants in this category there will also be a small number of awards in the region of £100,000 to £125,000. People should visit their website for all the latest information on eligibility, how to apply and how to donate or support.

Those in other counties across the country should also check out the latest information on local authority websites to ensure they are making the most of available support and for useful advice on clean up and waste collections.

For those affected by the severe weather across Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed a package of support totalling £16m. The funding will be used by local authorities to provide every household, business premises or charity directly affected by flood water with a grant of £1,500. The Scottish Government website contains some more details of what is on offer and refers people to their local authority for details on how to access the funding.

Support for businesses

Grants are available to businesses affected by the floods, funded by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and will be administered by different organisations across the counties, often by growth hubs for non farming businesses.

The likes of Cumbria Growth Hub, Boost Business Lancashire, and City of York Council/Make It York/North Yorkshire County Council will deal with flood recovery grant schemes worth up to £10,000 for small and medium sized businesses to be used on specialist expertise, marketing, interest costs on borrowing, training and other revenue expenditure. Applications should be made as soon as possible and the final date for applications is 28 February 2016.

A fund providing a maximum of £20,000 has been made available by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to aid farmers in the restoration of land, restoration of vehicle access to fields, repairing of drainage, clearing of debris and the restoration of fencing and stock proofing of fields. Closing date for applications is 1 April 2016 and details of eligibility and how to apply can be found on the Government Farming Recovery Fund pages.

Business Rates Relief Schemes will also be in place with local authorities, awarding 100% rate relief, commonly for a three month period to all businesses affected by the flooding. This could be extended if the adverse effects continue but you should check the exact details of the relief within your own local authority.

At this stage you are likely to have been in touch with your bankers, but it’s worth pointing out that emergency support to customers may be available. This will be for personal customers too. Individual circumstances in all cases will obviously need to be considered with your business manger, but you may be able to secure overdraft increases or capital repayment holidays.

Managing cash flow during this period will be key and your plans will include a range of measures. That might include cash injections from business owners, securing extended terms with suppliers, payment plans with HMRC and even laying off or loss of staff. Each part of the plan will need careful consideration before taking action and it will be a good idea to seek advice from your professional advisors.

If you need help with claims or any part of your own recovery plan, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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