An influential Parliamentary select committee has endorsed Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s call to improve flood protection for businesses.

Julian Whittle, the chamber’s business engagement manager, gave evidence to the Environment and Rural Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into coastal flooding in June.

The committee has now published an interim report, which calls on the Government and the Environment Agency to rethink the methodology used to determine spending on flood defences.

The report says: “Julian Whittle told us ‘not enough cognizance is given to the needs of business’ and the funding calculator [for flood defences] ‘is purely prioritised on residential’.”

The select committee’s report also calls for tax incentives to encourage private investment in flood defences.

Rob Johnston, the chamber's chief executive, said: “The select committee was keen to hear from us because we have experience of the impacts of flooding on businesses given the severe floods Cumbria experienced in 2005, 2009 and 2015.

“We told them that flood-hit businesses have seen big increases in insurance excesses, some have struggled to borrow and some have been denied investment by parent companies unwilling to spend on flood-prone sites.

“We called for a change in the way that flood defence schemes are evaluated to recognise the needs of businesses.

“At present the Government prioritises the defence of homes over businesses and infrastructure. We don’t want to see less spent on defending residential property but we do think businesses and transport links deserve better protection.”

The committee published an interim report in response to the dissolution of Parliament. It hopes that a successor committee in the new Parliament will build on the work completed to date.