Flood Re, the joint initiative between the UK government and the insurance industry, has launched the ‘Be Flood Smart’ campaign in partnership with the Environment Agency.
Studies have shown homeowners face average costs of £32,000 to fix flood damage as flood risk in the UK grows. 1 in 6 people in England is now at risk of flooding, yet flood awareness and resilience among property owners remain stubbornly low. Many significantly underestimate their chances of being flooded with over a quarter (27%) saying they don’t think it will ever happen to them.
Simple home improvements make properties more resilient, limiting the cost of repairs by as much as 73% according to data.
The campaign encourages householders to adapt their homes with Property Flood Resilience (PFR) measures to better protect against the impact of future floods while also helping with speeding up repair work, and helping people move back into their properties quicker after a flood.
These measures can include raising electrical sockets and white goods away from floor level, installing self-closing air bricks and flood-resistant doors and replacing flooring with waterproof tiling and grout.
Andy Bord, the CEO, of Flood Re, commented, “More frequent and more damaging flooding is one of the ways the climate crisis is having a very real impact on households across the UK. We need to take urgent action to adapt to a warmer and wetter planet and reduce that risk. There are simple and cost-effective steps homeowners can take to protect their homes and the things they love from floods – and we want to inspire more people to do just that. That’s why we are partnering with the Environment Agency to deliver Be Flood Smart.
“It’s all about raising awareness of the benefits and encouraging people to adapt their own homes, to make the UK more resilient to current and future flood events while providing vital peace of mind for those living with flood risk. PFR is just one part of the solution: new homes need to be built with adaptation in mind and we must also continue appropriate investment into maintenance of our flood defences to ensure they are fit for purpose.”
The campaign was launched at the new BeFloodReady PFR Centre in Oxfordshire’s HR Wallingford. This centre serves as a dedicated PFR demonstration facility where the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s (CIWEM) PFR Code of Practice training will be held, alongside the National Flood School.
PFR serves as a way of managing the effects of flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water, and works alongside traditional engineered defences and natural flood management. The National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy identified that an increased focus is needed to encourage property owners to build back better after a flood. The campaign is part of a commitment in the FCERM Strategy Roadmap, published in June 2022, to help mainstream property flood resilience.
Alan Lovell, the Chair of the Environment Agency, said, “Flooding can be devastating – particularly when people’s homes and possessions are ruined. We have committed through our Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy to work closely with partners to help make PFR a mainstream approach. This will have the benefit of reducing the risk of flood damage to individual properties and helping people move back into their properties quicker after flooding.
“With climate change making extreme weather events increasingly likely, it’s essential that we all work towards making properties and communities more flood and climate-resilient. The joint campaign with Flood Re and the Environment Agency will show property owners that flood resilience measures can be built into their home in a cost-effective way.”
This launch comes a year after the introduction of Flood Re’s world-first Build Back Better scheme, which was designed to ensure homes are more resilient against future flooding. Currently, it is offered by 64% of the UK insurance market, customers of participating insurers can access reimbursement costs of up to £10,000 as part of a flood claim, over and above work to repair damage and loss. The funds will pay for the installation of PFR measures that will reduce the impact of future flooding and provide householders with vital peace of mind.
Alan Ryan, the Programme Manager, at Ox-Cam PFR Pathfinder and West Northamptonshire Council, said, “Awareness and adoption of property flood resilience is growing as people realise that options are available to make their properties more resilient to flood water. The new BeFloodReady PFR Centre is a legacy from Defra’s PFR Pathfinder project and will provide a dedicated demonstration property to not only showcase PFR measures in use but where industry-wide training will be provided on the specification, installation and maintenance of PFR, helping ensure the workforce is prepared for rising flood risk.
“This is the first centre of its kind and we are delighted to bring together key stakeholders from across the flood risk management community, including CIWEM and the National Flood School, to put property-level flood resilience in the spotlight.”