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Flooding Statistics UK - Rainbow International

What Are the Effects of Flooding in the UK?

  • Around 2.4 million people live in immediate flood risk areas in England.
  • Overall, one in six homes in England are at risk of flooding.
  • You are statistically more likely to get flooded than burgled.
  • The UK spends around £4.4bn on flood defence.
  • Young people are more likely to be at risk of floods due to a lack of knowledge.

Floods can be a prevalent problem in the UK. Not only do floods damage property – sometimes beyond repair – but they can spread disease and pose a very significant risk to life. But what are the facts? These 2019 UK flooding statistics put numbers to the theories.

As it currently stands, the residents of around 2.4 million UK properties are at risk from fluvial (river) and coastal flooding each year, while a further 2.8 million are susceptible to surface water – or pluvial – flooding.

Overall, one in six properties throughout the UK – around 5.2 million in total – are located in areas where there is quite a significant risk of flooding.

At peak times, flooding costs the economy around £100,000 per hour per major road affected. As many as 40% of businesses do not reopen after suffering a catastrophic loss from flooding, and the mental health impacts of flooding can be prevalent for more than two years in the individuals who have been affected.

Adding to this considerable threat is the number of water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants that are located in areas that pose a moderate to high flood risk. Currently, 55% of all water or sewage pumping or treatment works are threatened by flooding, while 34% are significantly at risk.

This means that the average UK household is currently more likely to get flooded than burgled.  It has also been discovered that local councils investing just 10% and drawing on additional resources could potentially unlock up to 90% of the available government funding earmarked for areas at risk of flooding.

The main problems seem to stem from a lack of available information. For example, many households and businesses across the UK are eligible for free flood warnings, and yet only 41% of those people are registered for this service.

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Most Common Causes of Flooding Statistics

First of all, it’s important to know that flooding can happen for a multitude of reasons. Here are the most common:

  • Fluvial flooding – when rivers, lakes and other bodies of water overflow, either due to rainfall or drainage from the surrounding land.
  • Coastal flooding – when high tides, storms, tsunamis and other natural disasters cause water from the sea to flood the land. This is usually the result of atmospheric pressure coinciding with a high tide.
  • Surface water flooding (also known as pluvial flooding) – an occurrence that is hard to predict, this occurs when rainwater fails to drain away sufficiently.
  • Sewer flooding – this takes place when sewers are blocked or overwhelmed by the water pouring in. This can cause the surrounding area to become contaminated, and is potentially very hazardous to health.
  • Reservoir flooding – when a dam bursts and the contents of a reservoir cause damage to the surrounding area.
  • Groundwater flooding – when the ground becomes so saturated with water that it rises above the surface. This usually occurs in areas underlain with permeable rocks.
  • Flash flooding – this is usually caused by periods of heavy rain or meltwater, and can create walls of water from 10 to 20 feet high.

Of course, it’s difficult to predict where flooding will next occur, as 25% of activity actually takes place outside areas formally designated as being flood prone.

Areas Most Likely to Get Flooded in the UK Statistics

Regions with large quantities of rainfall, such as Yorkshire and Cumbria, and areas by seas or large rivers such as Cornwall, Skegness, Hull, Merseyside, Great Yarmouth, and the Kent and Sussex coastal areas are usually at greatest risk from floodwater. Other at-risk spots include:

  • Peterborough
  • Holbeach
  • Knottingley
  • Somerset
  • Burnham-on-Crouch
  • Woodhall Spa
  • Boston
  • Scunthorpe
  • Sandtoft
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Wiltshire
  • Lincoln
  • Gainsborough
  • Cleethorpes

57 London tube stations are currently at high risk from flooding. In 2012, the Central Line was closed between Mile End and Stratford for 26 hours due to floods – costing an estimated £4 million.

Flood Defence Spending UK Statistics

A total of £4,371,018,000 is currently being spent on flooding defences across the UK. The cost is split between various UK political parties.

Political PartyFlooding Defence Spend
Conservative £2.6bn (on average)
Labour£1.6bn (on average)
Liberal Democrat£76m (on average)
Green£82m (on average)
Independent£15m (on average) 
Total£4.4bn (on average)

60% of funding currently goes towards the flood defences of London and the South East alone, even though this region holds only 32% of the country’s entire population. Greenwich and Woolwich top the charts with £943,587,000 being awarded annually to deal with flooding. Dartford is next with £792,865,000, with a considerable jump down to the constituency that benefits from the third highest amount of defences funding, Lancaster and Fleetwood, which receives £114,865,000.

NumberConstituencyPartyGov. Funding
1Greenwich and WoolwichLabour£943,587,000
2DartfordConservative£792,865,000
3Lancaster and FleetwoodLabour£114,865,000
4Boston and SkegnessConservative£94,290,000
5Portsmouth SouthConservative£84,718,000

At the other end of the spectrum lie Wolverhampton’s North East, South East and South West constituencies, Worsley and Eccles South and Wythenshawe and Sale East. These regions receive no flooding defence funding whatsoever and are classified as minimal risk areas.

However, there are multiple projects taking place across the UK with the aim of improving flood defences. The South still benefits most from these, with 276 projects taking place in the South West and 212 in the South East, but Yorkshire and the Humber will benefit from a considerable 175, 141 are taking place in the North West and 108 are underway in the East Midlands.

RegionProjectsConstruction (£)Development (£)Pipeline (£)Total (£)
East Midlands108115.8147.93.3267.0
East of England9491.4115.830.239.1
London89929.180.11.3116.5
North East 9350.826.39.132.8
North West141157.6174.530.050.5
South East2121195.7 397.820.3180.4
South West276105.1154.2 7.148.7
West Midlands97 32.1 44.61.413.6
Yorkshire & The Humber175 102.2112.9 112.983.4

The Cost of Flooding Statistics

Flooding is estimated to result in annual damage costs of around £1 billion.

It’s estimated that around £266 billion worth of possessions within UK households have no insurance against flooding whatsoever – a sizeable sum when held up against the ABI’s calculation that the average UK household contains around £35,000 worth of possessions (the average UK salary is around £27,000).

When added together, the possessions in every UK household are worth £950 billion, with those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reaching a combined worth of £630 billion, and yet over a quarter of homes do not have contents insurance.

The average UK cost for buildings cover currently stands at £211, with contents insurance costing around £174, with a combined average of £363.

Which People Are Most at Risk From Flooding?

One of the demographics most at risk from the effects of flooding are people aged 18-34. This group are reportedly the least aware of their area’s flood risk levels, and less than half know what would need to be done in case of a flood.

Flood Rescue UK Statistics

Humberside Fire & Rescue alone have reported that, in the last ten years, they have had to rescue 70 people from their homes as a result of flooding, and have received 500 flood-related calls and dealt with 25 flood-related alerts and warnings across the North West of England. The London Fire Brigade, too, has been heavily impacted by flooding – attending 6,526 flooding related incidents in 2017 alone.

The AA has rescued more than 14,500 drivers from floods since 2013, with 100 rescues having been carried out in the last 5 years overall. According to investigations undertaken by the government, two-thirds of drivers would risk their lives in a flood and almost three-quarters of men would be willing to drive through flood water as opposed to 60% of women.

People under 34 are slightly less likely to drive through flood water than those 35 and above.

Are Floods Becoming More Common?

According to the Guardianthe planet has experienced an increase in flooding and extreme rainfall of more than 50% over the last ten years. We now experience these natural disasters four times more regularly than we did in the 1980s. Since 1910, there have been 17 record-breaking periods of rainfall, with nine of these taking place since the year 2000. Storm Desmond, which occurred throughout the winter months between 2015, broke a new record for national rainfall accumulation in a 24-hour period, dropping as much as 34cm of rain at Honister Pass in Cumbria within that space of time.Tens of billions of pounds and hundreds of thousands of jobs are being put at risk by these dramatic changes in our climate, with the prospect over the next few decades looking very bleak both environmentally and financially if this continues. By 2030 the UK’s sea level alone is likely to reach 11-16cm higher than it was in 1990.

Conclusion

With millions being spend on flooding defence and prevention every year, the UK is in a safer place than ever from serious water damage. However, with plenty of hotspots up and down the country – the risk of flooding is still prevalent and can pose major issues if not maintained. These statistics highlight the areas that are in a direct warning area, but also ensure that there’s plenty of sufficient provisions in place to protect these regions.

Join Rainbow today!

Interested in buying a franchise in flooding and restoration? Contact Rainbow International to find out more.