UK

Government Storm Babet grant too little too late, say flood-hit residents

Jake Seath’s home in Dundee, where he said his ‘whole life’ has gone (Jake Seath/PA)
Jake Seath’s home in Dundee, where he said his ‘whole life’ has gone (Jake Seath/PA) Jake Seath’s home in Dundee, where he said his ‘whole life’ has gone (Jake Seath/PA)

People affected by flooding from Storm Babet have said the Government offer of a £500 cash grant, council tax relief or funding towards repairs and flood protection, is “too little too late”.

Jake Seath from Claverhouse, Dundee, said his “whole life” was gone after he had to swim to flee his home with his partner Matt Kajetaniak, his dog, two suitcases and a rucksack, early last Friday morning. He has been forced to sleep on the sofa at his mother’s house since.

Responding to the Government package, the 27-year-old told the PA news agency: “I’m not happy with their response at all because they’re too little too late.

Autumn weather October 24th 2023
Autumn weather October 24th 2023 Jake Seath (left) and his partner, Matt Kajetaniak, have lost their home and all of their belongings due to flooding caused by Storm Babet (Jake Seath/PA)

“There’s no support for us there. It’s a very impossible situation.

“I’m homeless now and the council has done nothing about it.”

Communities Secretary Michael Gove and Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said the money will be available to people who have experienced “exceptional localised flooding” amid the extreme weather – which has left hundreds of people homeless and killed at least seven.

Affected households can apply for up to £500, while homes and businesses are eligible for 100% council tax and business rates relief for at least three months, ministers said.

“Thursday night this happened, and it’s the first thing we’ve heard that hasn’t been a pathetic excuse from Therese Coffey,” said Mr Seath.

“We’re all homeless, we’ve got nowhere to go and we’re not getting any answers, even at a local council level.”

Therese Coffey
Therese Coffey Therese Coffey said a grant scheme will open soon to help residents better protect their properties (Aaron Chown/PA)

Vicky Hallam, from Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, had recently renovated her childhood home when it was destroyed by flooding from Storm Babet, and she said the Government grant is “not enough”.

Ms Hallam, 63, told the PA news agency: “I don’t know if £500 from the Government is good or not. It’s not enough.

“If it was in the summer it would be different, but people are going to have the heating on to dry their (homes) out.

“The heating has gone up stupid prices – I really don’t know what to say.”

The Government announcement stated that small and medium-sized businesses in affected areas are eligible for up to £2,500 from the Business Recovery Grant, while flood-hit property owners can apply for up to £5,000 to better protect their homes.

Storm damage
Storm damage Flood water has wrecked many homes (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mr Gove said: “The support I am announcing today will give those impacted by these terrible floods a helping hand so they can get back on their feet and recover from Storm Babet.

“I will continue to work closely with our partners across Government and councils to make sure we are doing all we can to support businesses and families who have had to face such challenging and upsetting circumstances.”

The money will be available through local councils and comes from the flood recovery framework, which has only been used twice before, since its creation in 2017.

Ms Coffey said: “My sympathies are with everyone who has experienced the devastating effects of flooding. I would like to thank our Environment Agency teams and first responders, with 62,000 properties already protected thanks to our flood defences.

“Our property flood resilience repair grant scheme will soon be open to help residents better protect their property in the future, giving some peace of mind as they rebuild and repair.”