Funding for flood defences in the West Midlands could be cut by £5 million it emerged yesterday as householders were warned to remain on alert for rising waters.
One severe flood warning remained on the River Severn around Bewdley, with 65 flood warnings and 126 flood watches in place across the country.
It followed flooding of the River Severn at Shrewsbury and in Worcestershire, as well as floods in parts of north and west Yorkshire. But provisional figures from an Environment Agency committee show flood defence funding in the region is to fall.
A paper presented to the Regional Flood Defence Committee for the Midlands showed that the proposed allocation for 2008/09 was £40 million - down from £45.5 million spent in 2007/08.
The Environment Agency stressed last night that the figure was "indicative only" and no decisions about next year's funding had been made.
But the document showed funding for operating costs was expected to fall from £28.9 million in the current financial year to £22 million next year.
Capital expenditure was expected to rise from £16.6 million to £18 million, making a total spending reduction of £5.5 million.
The figures were contained in a report written by David Rooke, the Environment Agency's Head of Flood Risk Management.
Shropshire MP Dan Kawczynski (Con Shrews-bury) has urged Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), the Minister for the West Midlands, to intervene.
In an open letter to Mr Byrne, he said: "It was with horror I learned this morning the Environment Agency are planning a provisional cut in flood funding by £5.5 million.
"This comes at a time when Shrewsbury is under water, and the people are calling out for greater investment in our flood defences.
"I would ask for an urgent meeting with you in the House, together with fellow MPs to ask for your support to prevent this potential cut to flood funding."
The MP has also written to Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, asking him to ensure the potential cut does not happen.
An Environment Agency spokeswoman said:
"We distribute our flood defence maintenance and construction budget by assessing and prioritising where it is needed most on a national basis.
"The amount of money each region gets will go up and down from one year to the next depending upon what schemes are currently under construction and where new schemes are in the planning cycle
"Flood defence schemes can take a number of years from conception to implementation."
Referring to the national figure, she added: "This year spending on flood risk management has increase by more than £41.5 million.
"We have presented indicative figures for the 2008-09 budget allocations to Regional Flood Defence Committees. But these figures are indicative only, and our board will formally agree funding allocations in February."
A Defra spokeswoman said: "It's wrong and irresponsible to claim there have been cuts in flood funding - spending is at record levels now and will rise again from £600 million this year to £800 million a year by 2010-11."