Joint ABI and Flood Re report highlights the need for adequate maintenance of the UK’s flood defences

With modelling conducted by JBA Risk Management

We are delighted to have been involved in a groundbreaking report with Flood Re and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), published today.

The report, Modelling the Impact of Spending on Defence Maintenance on Flood Losses, explores in-depth the benefit of flood defence maintenance in the UK ahead of the Government’s consultation on its Comprehensive Spending Review this summer.

Key findings from the research highlight that:

  • River flood defences provide protection to flood risk communities valued at £568 million a year. Without such defences, the modelling suggests flood losses of approximately £958 million a year. With defences, inland flood losses reduce to £388 million a year, saving £568 million.
  • Flood defence maintenance is very cost effective - for every £1 increase in maintenance spending almost £7 is saved in capital spending on defences. The modelling highlights that increasing current maintenance spending by 50% can extend defence life by an average of eight years.
  • Well-funded flood defences rarely breach. As long as a flood defence does not deteriorate to and remain in a poor condition, then it is unlikely to breach – which is why it’s so important that flood defences are maintained to a good condition. Conversely, if maintenance spending is cut, flood defence lifespan reduces, and overall annual costs will rise.
  • Based on the current state of existing flood defences, London and the South East have the highest estimated annual flood loss with 30% (£117. 4m) of the total, followed by the North West at 11% and central Scotland at 8%.



The effectiveness of flood defences plays a significant role in the resilience of our communities and will continue to do so, especially with research suggesting that flooding is likely to increase in frequency and severity. We are delighted to have applied our flood science expertise in support of this important investigation that underlines the cost-benefit of investment in flood defence schemes.
Simon Waller, Executive Chair at JBA Risk Management

The research project modelled four different spending scenarios, with maintenance investments ranging from a lower to an upper annual spend and the associated net benefit for each scenario. The study explored the relationship between inland flood defence maintenance and flood defence failure due to breaching (caused by structural failure). It also estimated the total benefit derived from river flood wall and embankment defences and the associated upkeep costs of these defences.

While this report focuses on flood defences and the important role they play in reducing the impact of flooding, with the UK’s surface water flood risk increasing, it is important to ensure that other flood risk management measures, such as clearing culverts, are also funded appropriately.

Read the full report

Read the full press release from the ABI.

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