"The system for allocating taxpayers’ money to flood defence schemes favours protecting wealthy families and those in the South East, analysis suggests.
The Government has said it applies a strict economic formula to deciding where money should be spent.
But an investigation has shown the methods to determine where cash goes focuses on the value of assets protected – which could tilt the system towards richer households and those in parts of the country where house prices are higher.
It has prompted calls for a fairer system to prevent the poor being worst hit by floods.
To secure funding, a flood protection scheme has to demonstrate that it delivers more in benefits than it costs to implement and maintain the defences – by calculating the economic losses avoided through protecting property and infrastructure.
The calculation looks at direct damages for homes and other buildings and their contents, clean-up costs, loss of agricultural production and commercial stock as well as indirect damages such as disruption to transport, water, electricity or access to amenities."