The government is responsible for a woeful shortfall in cash needed to fix up flood-affected communities in Northern England, Tim Farron has said. The Liberal Democrat leader also suggested the government would be quicker to react to the problem had it struck in the home counties.
The government dug deep last December to finance a £300 million scheme to protect the Thames Valley despite rejecting a £180 million scheme to safeguard over 4,000 homes in Leeds, one of the areas worst affected by the Christmas deluge. All parts of the country, Tim believes should get the same protection and focus.
As the Prime Minister struggled to regain the political initiative, accountants KPMG said the total cost of this year's floods and clean-up operation could reach £5.8 billion.
So far the government has only offered £200 million.
Mr Farron said:
"You cannot have a Northern Powerhouse when bridges are broken, businesses are on the edge and communities have been ripped apart. The government has lost interest now the cameras have gone.
"If this was the Home Counties work would already have begun and staff would be made to work 24/7 to deliver the repairs urgently. The Tories just don't care about the North. It has been neglected and short-changed."
Mr Farron has already called on the government to apply to the European Union for funds to help in the reconstruction effort.
He also pointed to fears the key A591 link road through Cumbria would not be rebuilt following flood damage until May.
"The fixing of the railway line in Dawlish in Devon a few years ago shows the government can get work done quickly when it wants to, but it appears that Cumbria is not a priority."
The government's investment in recovery from Storm Eva and Storm Desmond amounts to nearly £200 million:
Closed businesses, people unable to go shopping or travel, damaged infrastructure and loss of agricultural output could cost the UK economy up to £5.8bn: