More than 200 families forced out of their Midland homes by last summer's severe flooding are still living in caravans, the Government said yesterday.

Floods Recovery Minister John Healey said the situation had improved markedly over the past two months.

But as well as those still confined to caravans, a further 600 Midland families have yet to return to their homes, with many staying in temporary accommodation.

The Government figures released yesterday show areas with the most households displaced, up to the end of April this year.

In the Midlands they include;

* Stratford-upon-Avon - 200 families were displaced (100 of them are wholly or partially living in caravans)

* Tewkesbury - 388 (114)

* Gloucester - 199 (8).

Mr Healey said the number of affected households living in caravans nationwide had fallen by more than 40 per cent between March and the end of April - down from 2,400 to 1,429.

He also praised local authorities and insurance firms for the work done following the deluges which hit many parts of England in June and July, but promised affected families they had not been forgotten.

"The fact remains that far too many people are still in temporary accommodation and unable to return home," he said.

"People are frustrated and are asking why. They want to know how it can take so long to dry out and get repairs and insurance sorted on their homes.

"So I urge councils and the insurance industry to step up the pace of progress over the coming weeks and months."

The Minister also revealed that one in eight displaced households do not have adequate insurance and said the Government would work with the insurance industry, encouraging it to redouble efforts to help the remaining families.

Mr Healey said he had put his concerns to the Association of British Insurers last week, adding: "I want those people still out of their own homes, living upstairs or in caravans to know they have not been forgotten and are not on their own."

He described the response to the floods - which saw 48,000 homes affected - as one of the biggest operations since the Second World War.

The Government has committed £118 million to date in support of flood-hit communities, but it has been estimated that damage caused by flooding could reach £3.5 billion.

Among the worst affected areas was Toll Barr in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. One resident, Angela Mahoney, who is planning her return home after nine months living in a caravan, said: "We didn't have any choice living here, but we've coped.

"I miss upstairs the most - once you've cleaned in one of these caravans, it takes you half and hour and you're done."

"In your own house you can potter up and down the stairs."

Another, Sharon Sanderson, added: "It was all right to start with, but two weeks is enough in a caravan for a holiday. It was just great to get back home."

Mr Healey visited the affected families in Toll Bar yesterday. "When you talk to people who are back home like Sharon Sanderson or who are due home like Angela Mahoney, you can tell the relief," he said.

"It's a hell of a strain for the families, a hell of the strain for the kids."