Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, on Saturday 11th May 2013, held a drop in meeting held at Pangbourne Village Hall to provide advice to residents on obtaining flood insurance and protection. The meeting was organised together with district councillor Pamela Bale.
Along with Alok, the meeting was attended by Amanda Davies, Operations Coordinator from the National Flood Forum, Matt Cullen, Policy Adviser on Flooding and Climate Change for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Andy Theaker and Dave Ludford from the Environment Agency and Stuart Clark, Highways Engineer at West Berkshire Council.
During the meeting, residents were given demonstrations on the use of flood mitigation devices and guidance on how to go about getting insurance and reduce annual premiums and excess payments.
Alok Sharma said: “One of the key areas of concern for residents living in flood affected areas in Pangbourne is obtaining affordable home insurance, which is why I organised this meeting for residents to receive expert advice.”
Alok also welcomed an announcement last week by Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that the government is close to agreement with the Association of British Insurers, which will deliver a lasting agreement to ensure that households can continue to access affordable flood insurance.
The Secretary of State also made clear during the announcement that the government was working towards an agreement that would address affordability for householders, which is not currently a requirement under the Statement of Principles agreed by the last government.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday 16th May, during departmental questions Owen Paterson said: “We are at an advanced stage in negotiations with insurers towards producing a successor to the statement of principles. Today, the Association of British Insurers has written to say that insurers will continue to abide by the current agreement for a month beyond the end of June to allow further time for the outstanding issues to be concluded ... We are aiming to conclude negotiations as soon as possible to ensure that households can continue to access affordable flood insurance.”
Owen Paterson continued: “The current arrangements are not guaranteed to hold premiums down. We are seeking an arrangement that will last well into the future, will deliver affordability and comprehensiveness, and will not impose a huge burden on the taxpayer.”
Alok Sharma said: “I welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State that the government is close to an agreement with insurance companies and that the Association of British Insurers have agreed to extend the Statement of Principles by one month to allow the details to be finalised. This is an important matter for many of my constituents and it is something I have raised with the Department.”
Alok continued: “In my view it is better to get an agreement in place which lasts and addresses that key issue of affordability, rather than the Labour approach of bungling out an agreement which ultimately is not all that helpful for those living in flood risk areas.”
Photo: Alok chairs public meeting on flooding in Pangbourne