The Government has been warned that failing to keep on top of flood defence repairs is a “false economy” that risks a larger bill in future.

On Wednesday the Public Accounts Committee of MPs called on the Treasury to agree longer budgets for the maintenance of flood protection.

Though the budget for building new defences has been agreed for the next six years – funding for maintenance is only settled each year.

The spending watchdog warns this makes the funding susceptible to cuts and calls on the Environment Agency, which is responsible for just under half of all flood defences in the country, to resist cutting spending on maintaining some flood defences.

Committee member Richard Bacon said: “The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency have done a good job in improving the cost-effectiveness of their approach to flood risk management. However, there are major risks to the sustainability of current levels of flood protection, which could impact on long term value for money.”

A spokesman for Defra said half a billion pounds more on maintaining and improving flood defences over this Parliament. “This will make 300,000 homes safer and reduce the risk of floods by 5%,” he added.