George Osborne used to lambast Labour for its supposedly terrible failure to “fix the roof while the sun was shining”. If the Chancellor ever attempts to deploy that rhetorical line again, he deserves to be laughed to scorn.
Upon entering the Treasury in 2010, Mr Osborne saw fit to slash the state’s annual budget for spending on the nation’s flood defences, as part of his ill-advised quest to wipe out the Government’s deficit as soon as possible.
According to the Department for Environment’s own published figures, the state’s annual spend on flood and coastal erosion defences dropped sharply from £670m in 2010-11 to £573m in 2011-12. After adjusting for inflation, that was a 15 per cent cut in a single year.
There would still, of course, have been severe rain over this Christmas if these massive cuts had not been made. There would still have been flooding and damage. But it is overwhelmingly likely that the floods would have been less severe and costly if the Chancellor had not cut the prevention budget so drastically.
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