More support for flood hit communities to be approved by Investment Committee

Total of £3 million available to help flood hit businesses get back on their feet following recent flooding

A total of £3 million of support for flood hit businesses is expected to be approved by members of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Investment Committee next week.  

Recent storms have seen up to 800 businesses in Calderdale flooded as well as up to 90 firms impacted in parts of Bradford, and more than 40 businesses affected in the Horbury and Castleford areas of Wakefield. 

At its meeting on Thursday 5 Marchmembers of the Investment Committee are set tconfirm the investment of £3 million from the Combined Authority’s Growth Deal to boost the support package for businesses announced last week. 

Two separate funds were set up following the initial aftermath of Storms Dennis and Ciara to offer businesses immediate and long-term support. The Emergency Response Fund offers grants of up to £2,500 to help businesses resume or continue to trade with support for replacing essential stock or white goods for example. The Business Recovery Fund offers larger grants to those firms which experienced greater damage including help to refurbish premises and replace heavy machinery. 

The funds are designed to meet needs not covered by other support and build on lessons learned from the 2015 Boxing Day floods.   

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Chair of the Combined Authority’s Investment Committee and Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see the damage which has been inflicted upon so many local businesses and homes in our communities over the past few weeks. 

I know from speaking to those who have been affected that they need support now in the immediate aftermath to get back on their feet but they also need help in the longer term to ensure that they are more resilient to future flooding. 

“Unfortunately, a lot of those businesses affected were unable to get insurance cover due to previous flooding, so this funding really is a lifeline.” 

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We must acknowledge that the impact of the climate emergency means that flooding on this scale is likely to happen more frequently and have wider impacts especially in those areas already vulnerable. 

“That is why as well as supporting businesses and communities now, we are also calling for the Government to invest £125 million in the next phase of flood alleviation schemes for our region which would safeguard more than 5,000 homes, 3,000 businesses and 31,000 jobs. 

“It’s vital that we protect and improve the environment at the same as building new flood defences. Our ambitious plans also include a £6 million natural flood management programme which will not only slow the flow of water to protect communities downstream, but also improve wildlife habitats and biodiversity.”  

Since the Boxing Day floods of 2015, the Combined Authority has invested £20 million from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal, alongside over £170 million of partner match funding for the City Region in flood alleviation schemes in Leeds City Centre, Skipton and Mytholmroyd. 

In total, up to 1,385 businesses and at least 11,100 jobs have been safeguarded from the risk of flooding.  

The Combined Authority is also investing a further £2.6 million in the Wyke Beck Flood Alleviation Scheme in East Leeds, £3.9 million in phase two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme and £1.7 million in natural flood management schemes in the Colne, Calder and Upper Aire catchment areas.  

A further £1.9 million was approved by the Investment Committee in February to help start a £27.2 million scheme in Hebden Bridge being led by the Environment Agency which will reduce the risk of flooding from a 20% risk to a 2% risk in any given year. 

Support for residents affected by flooding is available from partner councils and local charities. People are advised to check their local council website for further information.