Published Conference Proceedings - Paper
Could non-cash rewards motivate homeowners to protect their houses from flooding?
Bichard, E & Kazmierczak, A 2010, Could non-cash rewards motivate homeowners to protect their houses from flooding?, in: Kabish, S (ed.), 'Vulnerability, Risk and Complexity: Impacts of Global Change on Human Habitats (IAPS 21 Conference, Abstracts of Presentations)', iaps, Leipzig, Germany. Conference details: 21st International Association People-Environment Conference - Vulnerability, Risk and Complexity: Impacts of Global Change on Human Habitats, 27th June to 2nd July, 2010..
This paper addresses the maintenance and improvement of liveability of cities under climate change. It reports on research carried out within the ‘Resilient Homes’ initiative which has been promoted and funded by the Environment Agency for England and Wales. The overall goal of the Resilient Homes project was to examine the potential of a non-cash reward scheme to increase the adoption of flood protection measures by the house owners. It is estimated that 5.2 million properties in England, or one in six homes, are threatened by floods. Within this number, nearly half a million properties are located in areas subject to a significant (greater than 1 in 75 years) risk of flooding. While many of these properties are protected through existing or planned structural defences, it is estimated that about half of the households currently in areas identified as at significant risk of flooding might remain unprotected. Furthermore, the number of people at risk of flooding is significant and is likely to grow with the progressing climate change as the projections identify increase in winter precipitation. Therefore, for many houses, property-level measures could be the only flood protection available to owners in the future. To date the uptake of property-level flood protection improvements in England and Wales has been minimal and less than 5,000 homes have adopted these measures. The reason for this is primarily cost, but also because most people do not believe that their property will be flooded. The cost of flood protection can range between Ł4,000 and Ł30,000 per house. The State may be able to subsidise low-pay households, but a national scheme would be prohibitively expensive. This study found that non-financial incentives (e.g. vouchers for fruit and vegetables or free bus travel) may be effective in influencing sustainable behaviour, and represents a more inexpensive alternative to full financial incentives. They also can bring additional sustainability benefits. In order to show that non-cash incentives offers an additional policy option to governments, the research team carried out attitudinal surveys with 1,043 home owners living in flood risk areas in England and Wales, and house-to-house inquiries in a deprived area of North West England. The surveys investigated respondents’ awareness of climate change, and their perception of the risk posed by floods. It also tested their willingness to install and pay for flood resilience measures and their willingness to accept non-cash rewards for doing so. The results suggest that while cash incentives are the preferred motivation option for respondents, nearly 60% would botivated to install flood-protection measures if they were offered non-cash rewards. The rewards that were tested included fruit and vegetables, free meals at restaurants, and free travel by public transport. There were positive associations between factors such as the level of concern about climate change, awareness of living in flood risk area, perceived future risk of flooding and feeling of responsibility for protection of one’s property, and the willingness to accept non- cash rewards. Encouragingly for policy-makers worried about the cost of an incentives programme, 80% of those who would accept non-cash rewards would be happy with receiving rewards to the same value as their investment in flood protection measures. In addition, those willing to pay more for flood protection measures said they woud accepts a lower value of rewards in return. These results suggest that non-cash incentives could be used to promote the propertylevel flood protection measures. Furthermore, non-cash incentives could be financially more feasible than cash subsidies. However, the current level of awareness about the threats posed by climate change risks needs to be raised first to improve the chances of success for incentive schemes. The Environment Agency has agreed in principle to carry out a field trial to test whether the attitudes reported in the study translate to actual take-up of rewards.
Bichard, E & Kazmierczak, eds. 2010, Vulnerability, Risk and Complexity: Impacts of Global Change on Human Habitats (IAPS 21 Conference, Abstracts of Presentations), iaps, Leipzig, Germany.
21st International Association People-Environment Conference - Vulnerability, Risk and Complexity: Impacts of Global Change on Human Habitats, 27th June to 2nd July, 2010.