Skip to main content

Westminster Council call for action to help residents at risk of flooding insure their homes and possessions

Published: 17 June 2022

 

  • Westminster Council is pressing the government to change its insurance scheme

  • Westminster has 14 high risk flood areas

  • One resident said not being able to get insured is ‘incredibly destabilising and anxiety inducing’

Westminster City Council is urging the government to do more to make its Flood Re Scheme fairer for the hundreds of Westminster residents whose homes have been affected by or at risk of flooding.

The council argues that the current scheme disadvantages renters and those living in shared buildings who are often least able to pay for repairs.

On 12 and 13 July last year, areas of Westminster experienced once-in-a-generation flash floods after a period of intense rainfall in which a month’s worth of rain fell in one day.

Maida Vale and Little Venice were mostly affected, with some residents finding their homes submerged in up to three feet of water in the space of a few hours. A ‘major incident’ was declared by the London Fire Brigade after homes and shops in the area were destroyed.

Westminster Council argues the government’s response to flooding has been insufficient and the current Flood Re Scheme, which is a re-insurance scheme that makes flood cover more widely available and affordable as part of your home insurance, is no use for people living in big cities. The insurance scheme is only able to provide buildings insurance to properties in blocks of less than four flats and is unavailable for landlords letting out to tenants. This does not help people who live in Westminster where 65% of residents are renters.

Ollie Bishop, a Maida Vale resident whose home was flooded in July 2021, said trying to get his insurance to cover the cost of repairing the damage has been incredibly difficult as he lives in a building comprised of 12 flats, he is ineligible for the Flood Re Scheme.

He said:

“It’s infuriating. It feels like we’ve fallen through the cracks – no insurance company will touch us and they won’t even tell us why, they just say it’s our postcode.”

Ollie currently lives in his water damaged property with his three children and said that the whole experience has been incredibly destabilising.

He said:

“Your home is supposed to be somewhere that feels safe and secure, if we get flooded again tomorrow, what are we supposed to do?”

Another Maida Vale resident, Laura Brown, a teacher who lives with her husband and two teenage children, said flood water was up to her knees in less than 45 minutes when the floods hit their home.

She said:

“Our family lost everything. Every piece of furniture, every school photo, my wedding album, and wedding dress – nothing could be saved.”

“There are so many loopholes in the Flood Re scheme. My husband works in the legal field and even he doesn’t understand it. It’s unfair as it’s not as if the floods were our fault, we didn’t leave our taps on or do anything to cause them. The government need to look into these loopholes for the hundreds of people in London who are not able to move back into their houses.”

Laura is also worried about the potential for more flooding, she said:

“I wince every time I see the forecast for heavy rain. It’s really hard being back, my home is different now.”

Cllr Geoff Barraclough, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development and Maida Vale Ward Councillor, said:

 

“The damage caused by the floods in July last year was heart-breaking. It destroyed many of our residents’ homes, ruined their life-long possessions and took a personal toll on so many people who were impacted.

 

“We need to do more to help residents in Westminster insure themselves against the risk of future flooding. The Government should urgently review Flood Re’s needlessly restrictive eligibility criteria so that the scheme can protect all of our residents.”