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Charities send aid to those hit by floods but warn of long-term impact

Farming charities send cash injections to those hit by flooding as Scottish Goverrnment announces £12m package to help victims get back on their feet

Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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Flooding has devastated farmland in Perthshire
Flooding has devastated farmland in Perthshire

Farming charity RABI has paid out more than £31,000 to flood victims in Cumbria but fears that figure will be dwarfed once people realise the true extent of the damage.

 

It came as insurers estimated the cost to the UK economy at £1.3 billion, with more than 20,000 claims already being made.

 

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution has been working alongside the other farming charities to deliver aid to people whose lives have been ravaged by flooding since the start of December 2015.

 

RABI began paying victims in Cumbria on December 7, with other regions including Yorkshire, Lancashire and Northumberland being fast-tracked thanks to a simplified claims process.

 

RABI chief executive Paul Burrows said: “In the north of England flooding has exacerbated other problems such as falling commodity prices or people not receiving Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) money from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).


“At the moment, many people are still working every hour of the day to care for their livestock and families, rather than deal with the financial impact of the situation.

 

“These are certainly very challenging times for the farming industry, but we will continue to do what we have always done, which is support those in the farming world on low incomes with limited means.”

 

RABI regional manager Georgina Lamb, who is also the charity’s representative on the Cumbria Action Flood Group, said there was still much to do to get flood-affected farmers back on their feet and the plight of many remained ‘desperate’.

 

Ms Lamb said surgeries at auction marts across Cumbria saw the charity approached by more than 60 people.

 

In Scotland, where many areas are still suffering the impact of Storm Frank, the Scottish Government announced details of its £12 million support package to help affected areas. This is in addition to the £4m announced by the Deputy First Minister in his budget statement.

 

An Agricultural Floodbank Restoration Grant Scheme of up to £1 million will also be made available to the farming community to seek financial support to restore damaged floodbanks.

 

The Scottish Government also unveiled a £235m action plan which it says will help protect 10,000 homes from flooding.

 

NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie, who saw the devastation first-hand on a visit to flood hit farms in Perthshire, said: "The damage seen on Scottish farms up and down the country has been extensive and the job of restoring flood banks and clearing up the debris will be costly and time consuming.

 

“However, that restoration work is absolutely necessary to restore flooded land to its productive capacity. The full picture will not be known until the waters recede but it goes without saying that, for a good number of farmers, the effects will be felt for much longer.”

 

Mr Bowie said that while the Scottish Government’s financial support was ‘much appreciated’, the union would push for talks with Ministers and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to assess which measures can be taken to better protect houses, businesses and farmland from flooding in the future.

 

“Prevention is better than cure and measures that allow farmers to better manage their watercourses will be a critical part of the solution.” added Mr Bowie.

 

“All stakeholders need to learn lessons from these dreadful floods and work together to ensure greater resilience to such flooding events in the future.”

 

  • To apply for financial help from RABI call the freephone confidential helpline 0808 281 9490 or email grants@rabi.org.uk For information on how to make a donation to R.A.B.I go to www.rabi.org.uk

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