Flooding helpline to be scrapped

Updated: 

Cameron addresses FSB conference

David Cameron wants the use of premium rate telephone helplines for flooding victims to be ended "as quickly as it possibly can be", Downing Street has said.

Householders calling the 0845 number, which was set up by the Environment Agency (EA), are having to pay up to 41p a minute, with the money going to a private firm.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron's official spokesman insisted the Government was providing "very significant" funding for flood defences both in rural and urban areas.

His comment came after the chairman of the Environment Agency suggested that Britain might have to choose whether it wants to save "town or country" from future flooding because it is too costly to defend both.

Lord Smith said "difficult choices" would have to be made over what to protect because "there is no bottomless purse" to pay for defences.

Speaking to reporters at a Westminster media briefing, Mr Cameron's official spokesman said the premium-rate helpline number would not be scrapped immediately, and victims of flooding should continue to use it.

But he said: "The Prime Minister is very clear that the use of premium rate lines should be scrapped as quickly as it possibly can be."

Places at most risk of flooding in Britain

Places at most risk of flooding in Britain