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How to find out if your home is likely to flood – and what help you can get

Millions of homes across the UK are at risk of flooding – here’s how to find out your risk, and where you can get help.

Parts of the country have been hit by flash floods after heavy rainfall broke August’s heatwave

At least one London tube station has been submerged in water, while other parts of the country are under a yellow warning for thunderstorms, with poor conditions expected to continue into the weekend. 

Floods are one of the UK’s most pressing climate problems, with a warming planet leading to more frequent and intense flood events, as well as contributing to sea level rise. 

Around 5.2 million properties are at risk across the country, a number that could double without more action to protect homes. 

Earlier this year, the Environment Agency even cautioned that some coastal communities will have to relocate due to sea level rise and coastal floods making some areas uninhabitable.

This might all sound scary, but being prepared is the best way to shield yourself from the potential impact.

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Here’s everything you need to know about checking whether you’re at risk, and what help you might be entitled to. 

How can I find out if my home is at risk of flooding?

You can check your flood risk in several ways. 

One map created by Parallel using Environment Agency data can show you how at-risk your area is. 

To use it, type in your postcode and the map will show you which areas near your house are at risk from flood events.

The flood risk is divided into bands of varying severity, ranging  from “high”, a greater than one in 30 chance of flooding in a year, to “very low” – a one in 1,000 chance in a year.

Parallel’s map takes into account local flood defences.

Aside from this map, a free government tool can also show you the long-term flood risk for a local area. 

This tool gives you a summary of the main flood drivers in your area, a summary of your risk level and who is responsible for managing floods where you are.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) offers a map for Scotland showing which areas are most at risk.

All these tools show current risk, rather than potential future risk as a result of climate change.

For a better idea of the impact of floods on your area in the future, Climate Central’s flood map shows projections for between 2030 and 2100.

Which parts of the country are most at risk of flooding?

According to a recent report from LV and Localis, 12 local authorities in England have more than 10 per cent of homes in areas at high risk of flooding. These are:

  • South Holland
  • Boston
  • Fenland
  • Runnymede
  • King’s Lynn & West Norfolk
  • Kingston-upon Hull
  • East Lindsey
  • North Lincolnshire
  • Spelthorne
  • Doncaster
  • Exeter
  • Windsor & Maidenhead

This list only reflects areas with a high percentage of homes in at-risk areas, rather than areas with the highest level of flood events generally. 

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Why is housing still being approved in high-risk areas? 

The twin pressures of the climate crisis and the housing crisis mean more land is becoming prone to floods at the same time as housing need is intensifying.

In local authorities with existing risk levels for flood events, this means that there’s sometimes little choice over where to build desperately-needed homes.

This leads to homes being built on floodplains in spite of national planning policy directing local authorities to avoid this wherever possible.

In November, think tank Localis found that almost 200 planning applications had been approved in 2021 to build a total of 5,283 homes on floodplains in the highest-risk local authorities in England.

What protections are in place – and what help can I get?

In 2021, the government outlined an investment of £5.2billion into flood protection for the UK, with plans for more than 1,000 schemes to be implemented in 2021 and 2022.

Further measures have since been announced by the Environment Agency, including a fresh national assessment of flood risk and new long-term investment scenarios. 

If you’d like to find out more about what flood protections are in place in your area, you can contact your local authority to find out.

In terms of protecting your own home, a number of property owners can access the Flood Re scheme, which helps make insurance affordable for those vulnerable to floods. 

You can use the Flood Re tool on its website to find out whether you’d be eligible for help.

You may also be able to access grants and funding in order to future-proof your property or business. You can find out more about these grants on the flood guidance website.

In England, you can sign up for flood warnings on the government’s website which will alert you when your area is at risk. You can sign up for similar warnings in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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