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EU Economics

European Union attacked over payments to North East flood victims

A battle over Britain’s membership of the European Union has erupted around payments to North East flood victims.

Campaigners have called into question the effectiveness of the EU over emergency cash payments to those hit by flooding in recent months.

Over the Christmas period Storm Desmond and Eva wreaked havoc across the North East with many homes across Northumberland and County Durham falling victim to flooding. Last week the misery continued as heavy rainfall flooded roads in Lanchester, County Durham.

Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell, who is a member of the Labour Leave campaign, argued that the UK would be better placed spending money at home rather than contributing to the European Solidarity Fund, which was set up to respond to major natural disasters in 2002.

The UK contributed a 10.8% share of the EU’s revenue in 2014, but has received just 4.3% of aid disbursed via the fund.

Mr Campbell said: “We should spend this money on our priorities which better serve our local communities and businesses.”

This week Prime Minister David Cameron echoed Mr Campbell’s view, he said: “It takes a very long time to get hold of any money and it is very uncertain whether you get it. Indeed, you end up paying for it in many ways as well. I think it is quicker and better to give people the help they need from our own resources.”

However Paul Brannen MEP, Labour’s European spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, disagreed and highlighted the benefits of the fund.

In 2007 the UK received £120m from the fund, when 48,000 homes and 7,000 businesses were flooded in the south west of England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside.


 

Mr Brannen said: “The Government has failed to apply for money which would help flood victims.

“The fund provides additional money to the UK when we apply for it and it could be helping people recover from the terrible floods we are experiencing.

“Our worry is that sometimes the Government doesn’t apply for these things as it doesn’t want people to know the benefits of EU membership.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that the UK has received an extra £31million to help with victims of flooding.

A department spokesman said: “Due to the UK ‘abatement mechanism’, agreed between Government and the EU and in place since 1984, the net value to the UK of this allocation is an extra £31m.

“We can confirm that all this extra funding received from the EU will be paid to flood-hit local areas.”

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/european-union-attacked-over-payments-10726586

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