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Floods - who pays the bill?
AS SEVERE flooding hit England again, South Yorkshire and other areas were still suffering from the after-effects of June's floods - made worse by the New Labour government's inadequate response.
John Jones, Sheffield
The insurance companies themselves are exploiting the situation. Shortly after the floods hit Sheffield, a Walkley resident was turned down for house and contents insurance by three leading companies. His misfortune was to live in the same S6 postcode as Hillsborough, which was flooded, even though Walkley is so high that if it floods it will be time for the rest of Sheffield to relocate to the Peak District!
Flooding in Gloucester, Ghurkas mobilised. photo Chris Moore
Whilst two of these companies have since lifted the 'temporary' ban, it is a clear sign of the insurance firms' attitude. With an estimated £2 billion damage from the recent floods alone, the Association of British Insurers' statement that premia will not be increased must be treated with some scepticism. Those on low incomes in flooded areas may find insurance unaffordable even if they can get it.
Some workers pay in other ways. Hospital workers who couldn't get into work in Sheffield were told they will have to make up lost time or take unpaid leave. This is despite people being advised not to travel on the day after the floods. Those living in the worst-hit areas would have found it physically impossible to get into work!
Meanwhile, people living in rural areas particularly can expect things to get even worse. The Environment Agency's scoring system gives areas with higher population concentrations priority. As the Agency's Ridings flood risk manager warned Yorkshire Floods Defence Committee: "Some systems we previously maintained in rural areas may not get funding in future."
This will not only affect workers in rural areas. 60% of the pea crop is already estimated to be lost and blight is threatening the potato crop. This will inevitably mean higher food prices. This will be on top of higher council taxes unless the government provides full compensation for repairs in flood-hit areas.
In The Socialist 24 July 2007:
Postal workers' strike
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Tales from the council chambers
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party reviews
Workplace news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis