Boston floods £4m defence fund 'going unclaimed'

image captionSome residents have claimed they were unaware of the flood funding

A £4m flood defence fund for Lincolnshire is going largely unclaimed, officials have said.

Hundreds of homes and businesses in and around Boston were swamped by a tidal surge in December.

The government made grants of up to £5,000 available for people to flood-proof their buildings.

But Boston Borough Council has said of the 700 properties known to have been affected, only 23 have made formal applications.

'Lives on track'

Stephanie Mooney, who is still drying out her house after five months, said:

"We've tried to paint, but its still too damp, so we have bare walls and children running around on floorboards.

"I've had to stop working to try and sort the place out.

"We were not aware of the £5,000 grant, we have not been told. It would be a huge help."

The council responded that it had tried to contact Mrs Mooney several times but had received no response.

Its lead flood officer, Phil Drury, said: "We have tried to get round the homes and businesses we know were hit and make the process as easy as possible.

"We will come round, we will survey the property, we will do all the work, we will appoint and manage a contractor, so people can get their lives on track."

'Paperwork fear'

He added: "It is on the website, we have written to those properties we know were affected but the next stage is perhaps knocking on doors - but people are not always at home.

"If it is not for people, then fine, but it would be a real shame for people to miss out because the don't know about it"

Stuart Hellon, from the Boston's Citizen's Advice Bureau, said it was unclear why people were holding back.

"It's only available to homeowners, not tenants, which might be a factor and I think some people are a bit scared of the paperwork - which isn't that bad.

"Lots of people were insured and feel they have taken care of things, especially as this scheme was only announced in April."

A report by the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum put the damage caused to the county's infrastructure by flooding at £8.1m.

Any money unspent will be returned to the government.

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