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Farron: Final Chance For EU Flood Funding

February 19, 2016 4:55 PM

Tim with Catherine Bearder MEP presenting a petition for EU Solidarity FundingThe government must apply for EU flood funding by the end of next week or lose out on millions of pounds, South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has warned. Tim met senior MEPs in Brussels on Thursday and presented a petition signed by over 2000 constituents, calling on the UK government to apply for this money.

Tim has repeatedly called on the government to apply for EU Solidarity Funding, yet with the deadline just a week away the government has still given no indication that it will apply.

Accounting firm KPMG has estimated the total flood damage in the UK at £5bn, meaning that the UK could be eligible for up to £125m from the fund, which exists to support member states who have been hit by a major natural disaster. Ten percent of the total grant would be made available immediately.

During a visit to Brussels on Thursday, Tim presented a petition signed by over 2000 constituents to leading MEPs from the Regional Committee, who confirmed they would approve a grant as soon as an application is made by the UK government. The European Commission has also confirmed it believes the UK would be eligible for a substantial grant. The funding could be used to help repair vital infrastructure and offset the costs of repairing flood damage.

However, applications for funding must be made within 12 weeks of when the natural disaster first hit. As Storm Desmond struck on 5th December, the deadline to apply is Friday 26th February.

In 2007, the UK received £134 million from this fund to help deal with the aftermath of floods.

Tim said: "It is utterly ridiculous that the government has still not applied for this money. At the meeting I had today, I presented a petition with over 2000 signatures calling on the government to apply.

"It is clear that people in the affected communities are desperate for the government to apply, and the EU is willing to provide the funds. The missing link is the UK government. It seems the Tories would rather short-change flood victims across the North of England, rather than stand up to their own Eurosceptic backbenchers.

"At a time when Cameron is trying to make the case for the EU, this is a perfect opportunity to show the tangible benefits of EU membership. With roads and bridges still closed across Cumbria and other areas, these funds would be invaluable in helping to get flood-hit areas back on their feet.

"There is no justification for not having applied. With the deadline just over a week away, the government must apply immediately for this funding before it is too late."