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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.

Flooding is one of the greatest challenges the UK will face in the coming years as climate change brings more extreme weather and rising sea levels. 

It’s estimated that around 5.2 million properties are currently at risk across the country, with extreme weather events and rising sea levels set to exacerbate the problem in the coming years. 

This week, the Environment Agency warned that some coastal communities will have to relocate in the coming years with “inevitable” sea level rise meaning they’re no longer viable to protect. 

With the number of homes at risk potentially doubling in the next few years, it’s important to know how floods could affect you – and what to do if your home is flooded. 

Here’s how you can check your risk level – and information on what protections you’re entitled to. 

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

There are a number of ways you can check whether your local area is at risk.

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One map, using Environment Agency data, can show you whether your area is at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea. 

All you have to do is input your postcode and the map will show you in detail which areas near your home are most at risk. 

Risk is ranked in bands which range 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.

The map takes into account the presence and current state of flood barriers in a local area. 

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Alternatively, the government offers a tool for checking the long-term flood risk for your local area, giving you a summary of your risk level and the main flood drivers, i.e. rivers, surface water or the sea.

The tool also tells you who is responsible for managing floods in your area.

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.

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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 flooding 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 for flooding at the same time as housing need is intensifying.

In local authorities with existing risk levels for flooding, 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 against flooding. 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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