Who are we?
Drainage boards carry out work in low lying areas. Without this work large areas of the UK would turn back to their natural state such as marsh, river flood plain and intertidal mudflat. Over time, this lack of maintenance would make such areas unsustainable, displacing homes, businesses, infrastructure and other local services such as schools and other community facilities.
Our operations ensure that a large area of land, communities and infrastructure is effectually drained, including the M18 and M62 motorways along with a number of settlements.
We maintain many miles of watercourses and associated infrastructure such as pumping stations and other structures. We also contribute to the maintenance of main rivers through a precept (a payment we must make by law). We work with partners including the Environment Agency and Highways England.
How are we Funded?
Our base funding is from a rate (local tax on land and property). Every year the rate is calculated by applying a percentage to the total annual value (equivalent annual rental value) of all property and land in our district to reach an amount that matches our spending requirements. Most years, adjustments are made to account for new development that has been agreed by the Council (Planning Authority) but can also be due to changes in the way central government assesses business rates.
Agricultural Drainage Rates
Part of the rate is charged to owners of agricultural land which can range from small paddocks through to large fields; this is known as the Agricultural Land Drainage Rate. This is collected directly by the Boards as there is no other suitable local tax mechanism for agricultural land and farms.
Domestic Drainage Rates
Part of the rate is charged to owners of land used for domestic and business purposes; the Boards are a charging authority and like the council, police, fire service and parish councils can ask the Council Tax Authority (in our case the East Riding of Yorkshire Council) to collect funds on the Board’s behalf.
Unlike some other larger authorities, because the amount the Boards charge is relatively small, we collect this as an average amount through a demand mechanism called a special levy. Although historically councils received up to 86% of this money back from central government this amount has reduced in real terms since changes made by government in 2013.
The Domestic Drainage Rate works out at less than £2 per East Riding resident per year (2019/20).
How are we Investing for the Future?
We are developing a future investment plan with other local public bodies to refurbish our pumping stations and flood risk infrastructure. This is in response to aging equipment and the need to adapt to climate change, especially sea level rise. To pay for this we ask central government for funding; we also put aside some savings every year as ‘reserves’. If we do not build up sufficient reserves for future investment we cannot guarantee that we can keep our apparatus operable, which puts our communities and other essential local services at risk.
We have made a significant investment in technology, including mapping and asset management systems such as satellite tracking of our operations. This investment helps us better understand the land that we help to drain.
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