The flood may be receding but home owners, farmers and business owners may still find it hard to keep their head above water – the damage inflicted will be felt for a long time to come. However, both the Public and Private sector have stepped up to lend a hand.
The government has announced a comprehensive support package to give much needed aid to homes, businesses and farms that were damaged by the flood. The measures include:
Repair and Renew Grant
A £5,000 “repair and renew” grant that will provide financial support for affected households and businesses to pay for repairs that will improve a property’s protection against future flooding. This will top up any money that insurers pay out and it goes live from 1 April 2014. The grants must not be used to duplicate repairs that should be covered through insurance policies – it is solely for use to increase resilience to future floods for properties and businesses.
Council Tax Rebate
£4 million is being given by the government to councils to help give owners of flooded homes a council tax rebate of at least 3 months. The funding is guaranteed so councils can implement the rebate immediately.
Business Support Scheme
A £10 million business support scheme that SMEs and farmers can apply for, will provide hardship funding in areas that are affected by the flood and have suffered significant loss in trade due to it. The funding will pay for immediate clean-up costs, material costs, restoring water-logged fields to farmable land, and exceptional costs to help them continue trading.
Business Rate Relief
Affected businesses will be entitled to apply to their local authority to receive a 100% business rate relief for 3 months and HMRC will give an extra 3 months to pay the owed business taxes – including VAT, PAYE and corporation tax.
These schemes will be backdated to ensure that support is provided to those affected by floods since December 2013, including those affected by the tidal surge in early December on the east coast.
Financial Support from Banks
Banks will provide £750 million for financial support to business and individual customers affected by the floods. The support from banks consists of:
- Repayment holidays
- Reduced or waived fees
- Loan extensions
- Increased flexibility of terms
- Additional specialist support reams deployed on the ground
- RBS has announced £250 million interest free loan fund
Business Support Helpline
A government business support helpline has been set up that will provide comprehensive advice and support to businesses affected by the flood. Callers will receive a 1 hour free call with a Business Support Adviser to help their business recover. The number is 0300 456 3565.
The Department for Transport will provide £31 million to be used to increase flood resistance to the rail network in the South West. An additional £30 million will be provided to local authorities in England affected by the storms to repair road damage, for example potholes.
Private Sector Lending a Helping Hand
An initiative from Enterprise Nation has brought big businesses to offer assistance to small firms affected by the floods. So far, the offers of assistance include:
- Regus is offering free workspace to workers affected by the floods. Those that are unable to work in their usual location can take advantage of free access to the business lounge of any Regus centre. A professional workspace, WiFi and complementary refreshments will be provided.
- Citrix is giving affected businesses a chance to access its GoToMeeting product for free on a 90 day trial basis. This will allow business owners to carry out online meetings with employees and customers face-to-face over the internet via a mobile, tablet or PC.
- Vodafone is donating 1,000 dongles to businesses that have lost broadband.
Although response to the flood may have been slow to begin with, there are opportunities and grants provided by both the public and private sector to help affected people back on their feet. If you would like further information on how to access that help, please contact Helen Marsden on 01923 224411, or email her firstname.lastname@example.org.