Budget will pump £5billion into flood defences to protect 300,000 homes after Boris Johnson was slammed for failing to visit storm victims
- Budget will double flood defence funding to £5.2billion by 2024, Chancellor says
- The projects are intended to protect 300,000 homes from extreme weather
- Boris Johnson was heavily criticised for failing to visit any flooding victims
Britain’s flood-battered regions are to receive a £5billion boost in this week’s Budget after Boris Johnson faced a backlash for failing to visit victims.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will use his first financial package to double funding by 2024 in a bid to protect 336,000 vulnerable properties.
The move comes after a winter in which the UK has been hammered by some of the worst storms in recent memory.
The PM came under heavy criticism for his slow response to the crisis last month – including staying at a country residence in Kent for a week rather than going to see those affected.
However, he has insisted his presence would merely have distracted from the rescue efforts, and praised the way Environment Secretary George Eustice handled the situation.
The Budget will focus on responding to fears over coronavirus, with measures to prop up businesses and the NHS.
But other items will include plans to move significant numbers of Treasury staff to bases in the North, as part of Mr Johnson’s plan to spread political power away from Westminster.
There will be a £643million package of investment to help rough sleepers off the streets and reintegrate them to society.
Parents of ill newborns will also be given an extra £160 a week to ease financial stress at a traumatic time.
The move comes after a winter in which the UK has been hammered by some of the worst storms in recent memory. PIcture is the scene in Snaith, near Goole in Yorkshire, yesterday
Boris Johnson (pictured watching the Six Nations Rugby match at Twickenham yesterday with fiancee Carrie Symonds) came under criticism for his response to the flooding crisis last month
Parents of sick newborn babies will be able to claim an extra £160 a week under measures set to be announced by the Chancellor.
Rishi Sunak will outline plans to allow new mothers and fathers to claim statutory paid leave for every week their child is in neonatal care, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
Treasury Minister Kemi Badenoch said the cost of the leave would almost entirely be footed by the Government, rather than business.
She said: ‘We will bring in an historic new entitlement ensuring parents having to take time off work because they have a sick baby will get paid parental leave.
‘This will be in addition to the usual maternity and paternity leave, and finally give parents the time, the resources and the space to handle these difficult circumstances.’
Mr Sunak told Sky News today: ‘What we are announcing today is a doubling in cash terms of the amount of money that we spend on flood defences in this country.
‘It’s going to pay for over 2000 different flood schemes around the country, it’s going to protect over 300,000 homes.
‘We have all either in our constituencies as MPs or watching on TV seeing the devastation wreaked on communities by flooding, this will make an enormous difference to people’s lives and I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do and this is something that wherever you live, whether you are in the south-west or the north-east, this impacts you, this investment will make a difference.’
Communities struggling to recover from the damage will be able to claim from a £120million Winter Defence Fund designed to repair flood defences as quickly as possible.
The funding – which doubles the £2.6billion spent on flood defences between 2015 and 2021 – is expected to be targeted in every region, and will be available from next April.
Meanwhile, Mr Sunak insisted the Budget will give the NHS and business ‘whatever it needs’ to stop coronavirus wreaking permanent damage to the economy.
Mr Sunak warned that UK plc is set for a ‘shock’ as the killer disease spreads around the globe.
But he insisted the effects would be ‘temporary’ and Britain is ‘well prepared’ to cope with the situation.
He made clear his first financial package this week will focus on supporting businesses amid fears a fifth of the workforce could end up being off sick, and pledged to give the NHS would get the resources to deal with a feared mass impact in this country.
But he flatly dismissed the idea that the crisis would result in the Brexit transition period being extended beyond December 31.
Mr Sunak (pictured on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show today) insisted the Budget will give the NHS and business ‘whatever it needs’ to stop coronavirus wreaking permanent damage
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