Tyne & Wear

Morpeth flood victims' insurance call

Flooding in Morpeth
Image caption About 1,000 homes and businesses were hit by the floods in September 2008

Flood victims in Northumberland are calling for all householders to pay into a national fund to protect people whose homes are at risk.

The Morpeth Flood Action Group says many people are finding it difficult to access affordable insurance.

It proposes a levy on all household insurance, regardless of whether a home is at risk of flooding.

About 1,000 homes and businesses were affected when the River Wansbeck burst its banks in September 2008.

David Parker, a town councillor and member of the Morpeth Flood Action Group, said: "In a place like Morpeth it is true that only about 1,000 properties are directly affected, but we would argue that this potentially affects everyone.

"If those properties cannot be insured, then gradually they become blighted and we want a thriving town, not one with empty houses and boarded-up shops.

'Worsening risk'

He called for all households to pay a "modest" levy of about £10, which insurance companies would pass on to a government-backed agency.

"What we are proposing is that flood risk insurance is ring-fenced, effectively taken out of the equation," he said.

Mr Parker said there should be an annual review "to make sure there was enough money in the pot to meet any likely claims".

Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers, said: "Flood insurance is widely available right now.

"We want that to continue to be so, but in face of worsening flood risk that is going to see more people subject to flooding of the likes that we saw in Morpeth a couple of years ago we need to look at other ways in which we can better protect communities.

"Insurance is part of the solution, but it isn't in itself the answer."

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