Liz Truss and James Wild sign letter to Jeremy Hunt calling for review of ‘excessive’ Internal Drainage Board levies in Norfolk
West Norfolk’s MPs have joined calls for the Government to review “excessive” Internal Drainage Board levies by penning a letter to the Chancellor.
Ahead of the forthcoming local government finance settlement, South West Norfolk Conservative MP Liz Truss is among those calling for the Government to look into “the adverse effect” these levies are having on councils.
In particular, she is demanding that the Treasury finds “a more sustainable solution to the funding of Internal Drainage Boards, to provide all, but particularly smaller councils, with reassurance that service cuts and Council Tax increases are not the long-term plan when it comes to IDBs”.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild has also signed the letter, which follows calls from West Norfolk Council for changes to the “unfair” £3million in annual funding it hands over to the drainage boards.
These boards are local public authorities which ensure low-lying land and floodplains have adequate flood management and water drainage services.
Whereas before 2016 a revenue support grant from the Government funded all or part of the levy imposed by IDBs for their services, since then councils have been expected to fund the levy themselves through Council Tax revenue.
Ms Truss has made the call in a letter to the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, signed by three other Norfolk MPs – Sir Brandon Lewis, James Wild and Richard Bacon – along with other concerned representatives from Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Kent and Buckinghamshire.
In the letter, Ms Truss writes: “With pumping equipment using fuel or electricity to manage water levels, the increases in fuel and electricity costs have drastically increased the operational running cost.
“Levies have therefore risen sharply particularly since the invasion of Ukraine, which drove up electricity and fuel prices further. With councils being required to fund drainage boards, the Council Tax charged to residents has had to be increased to absorb the levy.
“This results in an adverse effect for residents who live in these areas. Not only do residents face a significantly higher Council Tax charge, but they also do not see an enhancement in local services.
“We are aware of some funding having been made available to certain councils in 2022 and 2023 to aid with the increased costs of IDB levies.
“However, ahead of the local government finance settlement, we are calling on the Treasury to find a more sustainable solution to the funding of Internal Drainage Boards.”
Cllr Chris Morley, the borough council’s cabinet member for finance, has been part of a lobby group looking to secure more support from central government to cover the costs in recent weeks.
The authority has written to the secretary of state for local government to argue the current funding model of the IDBs is “unfair and disproportionate”.
In West Norfolk, which is prone to flooding, there are seven different organisations which require funding from the borough council. Other sources of contributions include landowners and farmers.