§ Lord Brougham and Vaux
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are yet in a position to make an announcement about finance for water authorities' flood defence work in 1987–8.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)
Yes. My right honourable friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Wales have reviewed the arrangements for grant aid for water authorities' flood defence works. Under current arrangements, the grant rates for each water authority are recalculated annually.
My right honourable friends have decided to end these arrangements and to substitute a system under which each water authority in England and Wales or, as appropriate, local land drainage committee will qualify for one of four grant rates depending on its resources and flood defence requirements. The grant rates will be 15 per cent., 35 per cent., 45 per cent. and 55 per cent. There will also continue to be a sea defence supplement of 15 per cent.; and we are increasing the maximum rate of grant for sea defence schemes from 61 per cent. to 65 per cent. The new arrangements will provide the water authorities with a firmer basis for forward planning.
My right honourable friend the Minister is today notifying the water authorities in England of their new grant rates and of their grant earning ceilings for flood defence works for 1987–8. Most areas will qualify for higher rates of grant than in the current year. In particular all areas with significant sea defence works will receive higher grant rates. In England as a whole this extra grant will amount to £4÷5 million, making a total grant commitment of £ 16÷6 millions Almost half the extra money will be devoted to the east coast sea defences. It has been possible to accept in full the Anglian Water Authority's bid for resources for 1987–8, with the result that Anglian is expected to receive over £3 million more than the sum originally allocated for 1986–7. Most of the remainder of the extra grant will be devoted to a major sea defence scheme at Seaford in Sussex.
The increased grant for 1987–8 follows an increase of £1÷25 million in grant aid in the current year, most of which was spent on works on the east coast.