Hundreds of flood victims yet to receive any cash promised in Government scheme

Hundreds of flood victims whose homes were deluged in 2019 are yet to receive money promised to them by the Government.

Homeowners say the delays mean they “live in fear” of another flood while waiting for payouts pledged 16 months ago by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Property Flood Resilience scheme (PFR) is worth up to £5000 to home owners left devastated by floods during the last two years.

It helps those flood hit families pay for flood gates, the raising of electric sockets and other flood resilient measures.

But the Mirror can reveal that councils in some of the hardest hit regions have only paid out a fraction of the grants to stricken residents.

The delay in the Government-backed schemes has been blamed on the “complex”
Defra guidance councils have to follow.

Flood victim Suzanne Stankard from Mytholmroyd in Yorkshire, said she sent her ‘expression of interest’ for the grant last May and is still waiting for work to start including a flood gate fitted and raised electrics.

“A couple of weeks ago everyone on our row lifted all their furniture upstairs when we were warned we could be flooded again,” she said. “You do live in fear.

“It took me three hours on my own to take my furniture upstairs to safety. We were worried.

“I thought ‘it’s just typical’ that I’d be flooded again before I get the flood gates in.

“The council told me they are a small team and it was taking them longer than anticipated.

“It is now nine months since I first completed a form expressing my interest.

“Now I will have to wait and see when the builders can complete the work.”

But Ms Stankard, an art lecturer, says she spent five months waiting for her council to give her details of an approved surveyor.

In the end she found her own.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough council has so far only paid grants to 6 of the 129 eligible initial applicants.

While Doncaster has settled just 18 out of 415 eligible applicants by February 17th this year, according to Freedom of Information requests.

In Derbyshire, which was hit with a month’s worth of rainfall in a single day in November 2019, the county council is understood to have not paid any of the 91 successful applicants.

A spokesperson estimating the earliest date of first payment to be around June.

One of those hit by the delays in Derbyshire, is Daniel Reed, 46, who lives in a terraced house.

He is still waiting for a surveyor to come round to assess his needs.

Mr Reed said: “We were flooded in November 2019 when Boris came on the TV promising the flood grant and literally a year later it was finally made available for us to apply for it.

“It is pretty s**t really. Our door leaks when it rains, there is mould growth on the walls and plastering is cracking and crumbling in rooms in our house.

“There are five pumps down the road which are constantly pumping water out into the main sewer system to stop houses from flooding.

“Every time we get heavy rain, the water still backs up because the culvert’s blocked. So, we have continual problems and are still worrying about getting flooded ground here again.

“We are currently dealing with our surveying contractor to find a safe way of working given the third lockdown.”

Entire ground floor floods in Cheshire couple’s home

Last September, Defra extended the deadline by 9 months to give local authorities more time to process the grants which are also available for eligible businesses.

A Defra spokesperson said: “The Property Flood Resilience Scheme enables people to make their homes and businesses more resilient and better protected from future flooding – helping them build back better and greener, while also providing a boost for local economies.

“The scheme is administered through local authorities and was recently extended in recognition of the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic – and we continue to engage with local authorities to ensure the scheme is delivered effectively.”

But the councils said the reason it has taken so long is because of the Defra rules.

They pointed out the Government scheme requires a survey, quotes which they have to approve, the arrangement of the work by the home owner, a second survey to check the work, then invoices need to be checked.

Rotherham Borough Council said: “We cannot make payments until work is complete and a claim based on invoices received,” they said.

The council pointed out that up to February 17th, 2021, they had received 129 eligible initial applications.

They said eight of those had submitted a claim for completed work and six of those had been paid.

A Derbyshire County spokesperson also said the reason it had taken so long was they have to follow Defra’s due process.