The £800 million pledged by Chancellor Alistair Darling yesterday to cover flood defences is so low that it could lead to a review of insurance services, say the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Baroness Young, Head of the Environment Agency, declared the funding a ‘good start’, but ABI chief executive Stephen Haddrill responded by saying: ‘We really want to carry on being able to provide this service. But obviously we can’t keep providing it at significant loss.’

He went on to say, ‘Millions of homeowners and businesses around the country have been let down by the Government’s failure to commit sufficient money to new and improved flood defences. Government spending for the next three years is less than we were asking for, even before the floods.’

South-west England, the Midlands and Yorkshire were worst affected in the summer floods, with many homes destroyed by the water. The estimated cost of the damage is £3 billion.