Mark Twain once remarked, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get”. Well, we have got a lot of weather during the last few weeks and if you have been affected by it the following information might be helpful.
Many of you will have insurance policies which cover buildings, gardens and home contents in the event of damage due to extreme bad weather or because of flooding. You should always check your individual policy to see if you are covered. In some areas where there is a known risk of flooding, insurers may have excluded compensation for flood damage altogether. You can find out more about flooding from the Environment Agency’s special helpline ‘Floodline’ on 0845 988 1188 or by visiting the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk.
There is also useful information about flooding and insurance on the Association of British Insurers website at: www.abi.org.uk
If you are on a low income or receive means tested benefit you may be eligible for help from the Local Assistance Scheme, a discretionary fund run by Surrey County Council. (and administered in Surrey by Citizens Advice bureaux) which provides financial help to Surrey residents who have nowhere else to turn in an emergency or after a disaster.
Depending on your circumstance you may receive one or both of the following:
- a one-off payment
- household goods from the Surrey Reuse Network
The scheme will provide support for immediate needs after a disaster or in an emergency, where no other options are available. This can be:
- to get food
- for essential repairs
- for emergency travel costs
- to keep a family safe
- for furniture and / or white goods
To be eligible for the scheme you must be
- at least 16 years old and
- able to prove you live in Surrey or prove have an intention to live in Surrey within the next 28 days
- on a means-tested benefit or unable to access sufficient funds
- in need of emergency funds to meet your basic needs or those of your dependents
To apply make an appointment to visit your local. You will be asked to provide
- Proof of identity – Driver’s licence or passport and
- Proof of address – Council Tax statement, tenancy agreement, or two recently dated bank statements or utility bills to show current address.
The CAB will evaluate each situation and consider local support options – for example if you need food it may be that essential supplies can be obtained more quickly from a local food bank.
If you rent your home and it has been damaged as a result of the bad weather, visit your local CAB to find out more about your rights as a teanat, including, who is responsible for the repairs and what happens if you need to move out while repairs are being carried out.
If you can’t get to work because of the weather, your employer can dock your pay. However, you should not be disciplined or dismissed if your absence was due to circumstances beyond your control. You may be able to negotiate with your employer to work at home, to make up the hours or take the time off as annual leave to avoid losing pay.
If your employer closes your place of work and does not require you to come to work or work from home, in principle you should nevertheless be paid, since you are ready and willing to work. However, there may be something in your contract which says you do not have to be paid if the workplace is closed due to flooding or bad weather.
Finally, if you had to cook your Xmas lunch on a camping stove because you had a power cut and your supply was not restored within a reasonable time, you may be entitled to some compensation. When power cuts are caused by severe bad weather, you won’t normally get any compensation unless your power cut lasted for longer than 24-48 hours.