UK

David Cameron Tells Flooding Victims He'll Do 'Whatever Is Needed,' Despite Cutting Flood Defence Spending In 2011

27/12/2015 15:24 GMT | Updated 27/12/2015 16:59 GMT

David Cameron's pledge to send more troops to "do whatever is needed" to help flooding victims has not convinced people with memories long enough to recall flood defence spending was cut four years ago.

Thousands of people are fleeing their homes after "unprecedented" levels of rain caused rivers to burst their banks and left homes under water in York, Leeds and Manchester.

Cameron chaired a conference call on Sunday morning of the Government's emergency Cobra committee as ministers worked to tackle the problem, while the Government has vowed to review flood defences as the army was mobilised this morning to help emergency services.

Cameron said: "I've just chaired a Cobra meeting on the unprecedented flooding. Huge thanks to the emergency services and military for doing so much.

"Also my sympathy for those affected at this time of year. More troops are being deployed as part of a plan to do whatever is needed."

But in 2011, the Coalition Government announced it would spend 8% less on flood defences - £540 million - over the next four years compared with the previous four years.

"It's the nature of flood and coastal defence investment that there are always more projects than national budgets can afford at any one time," Environment Minister Richard Benyon said at the time.

Defence projects in Leeds and York - which are now seeing floods - were among those put on hold.

People pointed this out after Cameron's pledge to do "whatever" was needed.

Heavy rain on Christmas Day and Boxing Day saw rivers burst their banks and flood parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, hitting homes and major roads.

Around 400 soldiers are already helping people in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria and another 500 are on the way to help.

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