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Poor areas 'at greater floods risk'

Deprived areas of England have been much more vulnerable to flooding in recent years than the most affluent parts of the country, according to analysis from Oxfam.

Many of the homes hit by flooding this year, as the UK suffered its wettest winter on record, were in better-off areas such as the Thames Valley. But over the past quarter of a century, poorer places have been more than three times more likely to flood than rich areas, the study for Oxfam claims.

Almost one in five of the poorest third of neighbourhoods in England suffered floods between 1990 and 2013, compared with just one in 18 of the richest 10% of areas, the research reveals.

The aid agency is calling on the Government to protect vulnerable people in the UK from climate change, which is expected to lead to more extreme weather and an increased risk of flooding.

It also wants greater action to protect people in poorer countries from the impacts of extreme weather such as droughts and floods and to cut emissions to slow the pace of climate change.

Oxfam is warning that, without urgent action, climate change will hit food production, pushing up food prices and damaging efforts to tackle hunger and malnutrition around the world.

Sally Copley, Oxfam's head of UK policy, programmes and campaigns, said: "This winter's floods dramatically demonstrated that people in the UK will not be immune from the effects of climate change.

"Around the world, climate change is hitting the poorest hardest and we must make sure this doesn't happen overseas or on our doorstep.

"Not only are poor people hurt most by extreme weather events, they are also most vulnerable to food shortages and price increases. In a world where one in eight people already go hungry we cannot afford to put off action any longer."

Oxfam is calling on the UK Government to push the European Union to a commitment to cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030 - up from the 40% that has been proposed in the EU's climate and energy package for 2030.

Urgent action is also needed to move away from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy, the aid agency said.

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