It looks as if that previous post was bang on the button: the Flood Defence Grant in Aid has been cut progressively and in successive years by the ConDem government.
John McDermott, doing the Off Message blog for the FT, has analysed the same figures, and gone further.
He starts from the ConDem claim that it is spending £3.1 billion on flood defences over the period of the Comprehensive Spending Review, thus significantly more than the £2.37 billion under the previous review period, 2007/8 to 2010-11.
McDermott’s opening shot is simple:
It takes a heroic act of number crunching to make the coalition’s case.
He then goes back to the actual numbers in Annex A of the Committee on Climate Change for “a more detailed breakdown of flood defence spending”. “Breakdown” seems a particularly ambiguous usage at this moment.
He then proceeds to showing [i]t Takes five steps to make the government’s spending argument. They involve:
- quoting cash rather than (revalued) real terms numbers;
- double counting money spent in the year 2010/11 before the spending review;
- adding in £129 million of DEFRA grants to local flood authorities, more than half of which is not being spent on local flood risk management;
- bringing forward money from 2014/15 which is still, effectively, notional;
- including “external contributions” (which I assume to be, in the main, those monies extracted from developers to persuade local authorities to grant planning permission for marginal sites, particularly those on vulnerable flood plains).
McDermott wraps it all up by including the Environment Agency’s estimates of what needs to be spent, compared with current forecasts. The difference is around double.
Speaking on LBC 97.3 radio, Cameron firmly rejected that suggestion as the government will “make available the money that’s needed here in Britain”.
“Whatever it takes, money will not be the object,” he said. “We are a wealthy country, we have a growing economy. If money is needed for clean-up, money will be made available. If money is needed to help households get back on their feet, that money will be made available.
“Money is not an object. There’s no ‘either/or’ here. It’s not either protecting our overseas aid budget or spending the money here at home. What we need at home will be spent here at home.
“As prime minister, I will absolutely guarantee that that will be done. I’ve spoken to the chancellor about this.
“Yes of course there are financial constraints, yes of course we still have a big budget deficit but we are a wealthy country, we have a growing economy, we’ve looked after our nation’s finances carefully. This is an emergency for our country and we will spend the money where the money is needed.”
Obviously, another Cameron “cast-iron guarantee“