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Rennie: Review Bellwin support for flood-hit communities

January 11, 2016 10:24 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP, has criticised the Scottish Government today for hyping up the financial support available to councils through the Bellwin Scheme, saying it does not grant much-needed financial support in the wake of serious flooding efficiently or quickly enough.

The Bellwin Scheme gives financial support to local authorities that face considerable costs following large-scale emergencies. Mr Rennie has warned the future administration of the scheme must be reviewed after Ministers previously raised the hopes of Perth and Kinross communities affected by severe flooding that funding would be rapidly available.

In November 2012, Comrie was badly flooded and despite the Deputy First Minister activating the Bellwin scheme at the time, support was denied Perth and Kinross Council a year later by the Scottish Government because it did not meet the criteria required. In July 2015 after flash flooding caused considerable damage in Alyth, the Deputy First Minister announced he had again triggered the Scheme so the council could claim back financial aid which is still yet to receive.

Mr Rennie said: "When the Scottish Government makes apparently generous announcements about triggering the Bellwin scheme they are giving the impression that financial support for communities is almost automatic but that's far from the truth.

"The strict criteria that needs to be met means communities in Comrie and Alyth in Perthshire did not automatically and speedily receive support after major floods in recent years. Both are still waiting, as is Perth and Kinross Council.

"The SNP Government needs to go beyond the Bellwin scheme to provide urgent help. The scheme alone has been insufficient for Alyth and Comrie and the way it is administered in the future must be reviewed."