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Floods reveal effect of government cuts
While the world's capitalist politicians currently meeting in Paris prevaricate over measures to halt global warming, hundreds of thousands of people - from Carlisle in Cumbria to Chennai in India - suffer the misery of increasing extreme weather events.
When floods devastated Cumbria in 2005 people were told it was a 'one-in-a-100 year event'. But the current flood is the third such disaster in a decade.
Last year the government was heavily criticised when floods inundated the Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley for cutting flood defence spending and Environment Agency jobs.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss claims the previous Tory-led coalition government increased real terms spending on flood defences. However, a National Audit Office (NAO) report published last year concluded that flood spending had actually fallen by 10% under the coalition government.
Now, in the current crisis, the Tory government has talked up a multi-billion pound capital spending programme for floods over the next six years. But commentators have reported that it has actually cut £115 million from flood management this year.
Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth reckon there is a £2.5 billion hole in current flood defence plans.
And in his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne slashed spending by 21% at the Department for Energy and Climate Change and 15% at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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