- 7 Aug 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/01905
Date received: 10 July 2018
Date responded: 6 August 2018
1. I understand that previously there were design standards to ensure that grant was only given to schemes that gave a 1 in 200 year protection. This, I am told by the Council, was later reduced to a 1 in 75 year protection. When did these design standards cease to be applied and on what basis? Please point me to the document that accurately records this change and identifies who authorised this.
2. Please provide me with a copy of the conditions of grant. If this is the letter that is sent to individual councils as a 'General Capital Grant Offer Letter' - please provide me with a copy of that letter.
As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
The answers to your requests are:
Prior to 2007 local authorities were able to apply for specific flood prevention capital grants which were administered by the Flood Risk Management Team. At that time, in order to qualify for grant assistance, a flood alleviation scheme constructed under the 1961 Act had to provide protection against flooding over its design life with an annual probability of occurrence no greater than 1%, and to achieve a ratio of benefit to cost greater than unity. The first criterion meant that schemes require to be designed to a 100 year plus climate change standard, usually translated as a 200 year present day standard.
As part of the 2008 Local Government settlement a number of former specific grants were rolled up and became part of the General Capital Grant (GCG) paid to Council. The flood prevention capital grant was one such grant which was rolled up in this way. The GCG continued to provide grant aid to known Flood Protection Schemes, identified prior to 2008, as well as an allocation based on the risk of flooding in each area.
In 2012 a specific arrangement was agreed between the Scottish Government and COSLA whereby the flooding component of the General Capital Grant would be distributed to major projects against a set of eligibility agreed by Scottish Ministers and COSLA. I attach a copy of the letters and guidance which were issued to local authorities in December 2011 and December 2013 which set out the eligibility criteria. No design standard were applied at this time but schemes had to be able to demonstrate a positive benefit cost ratio of greater than 1 and demonstrate project value for money.
In July 2016 it was agreed by Scottish Ministers and COSLA that the funding of flooding should be based on a more sustainable funding agreement and reflect the legislative framework that was introduced in the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009. In doing so it was agreed that from 2016-17 onwards the flood component of the GCG would be allocated on the basis of a hybrid model whereby a 20% of the component is allocated to all 32 councils to contribute to other elements contained in their Flood Risk Management plans and 80% is allocated to large scale projects and distributed according to the SEPA prioritisation of flooding schemes and works set out in the Flood Risk Management Strategies. It was also agreed that the previous de minimus threshold for funding of £2m was removed with the grant intervention rate remaining at 80%.
I attach a copy of the letters issued to local authorities in January and July 2016 advising them of the distribution methodology.
Schemes proposed in the flood risk management strategies were prioritised according to their cost benefit ratio and taking into account a series of additional criteria, encompassing the environmental and social impacts of flooding. This list was agreed by the National Prioritisation Advisory Group which was chaired by the Scottish Government. No design standards were applied but as previously, proposed schemes are expected to demonstrate a positive benefit cost ratio of greater than 1.
Grant is only payable on the costs of the scheme to deliver the flood prevention. A local authority may add additional works to their scheme but these additional costs do not attr grant. Only the capital costs of a scheme are eligible for grant. What is a capital cost is determined in accordance with proper accounting practice.
A Copy of the General Capital Grant offer letter issued in March 2018 is attached.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House