Be ready for more bad weather - PM

Britain needs to be prepared for further "extreme weather events", David Cameron said as he honoured the work done by volunteers in the winter storms.

A house near the flooded village of Moorland in Somerset
A house near the flooded village of Moorland in Somerset

The Prime Minister, who launched a new Points of Light award to recognise voluntary work, told some of those who helped the country cope with the floods to keep up their efforts in case there are similar crises in the future.

At a reception in Downing Street, Mr Cameron announced £500,000 of funding for community foundations and confirmed that £4 million from the Libor fines levied on banks would be directed to rescue organisations.

The Prime Minister said the first five Points of Light awards - based on the scheme in the US championed by former president George Bush Snr - had been awarded to people who did "extraordinary things during the storms and floods in terms of community service".

Around 150 people involved in the flood relief effort attended the reception in No 10, where Mr Cameron reflected on the way the country coped with "some of the worst British weather we have ever seen".

He said: "There were moments when it felt like the whole country was under attack in terms of the weather and it was never going to relent.

"But while we saw the worst of British weather, we saw the best of British spirit."

He said it was a " privilege and an honour to travel the country and see that spirit first hand: whether it was Facebook sites to clean up Chesil Beach, whether it was community cafes in Somerset, whether it was Scouts, Guides and others pitching in, whether it was a group of young Muslims from right across the country, including from Yorkshire, who went all the way down to Somerset".

Mr Cameron, who has said he "very much suspects" that the floods were due to climate change, warned the volunteers they may be called on again.

"Please keep at it," he said. "I hope we won't have weather quite as bad as that but the fact is we have seen more extreme weather events, we have had things that we have been told are one in a 100 or one in 200-year events and they seem to be happening more frequently.

"I think of my own constituency , which was flooded so badly in 2007, some floods again this time. These things just a few years apart.

"So please keep doing what you are doing."

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Budget last month that some of the fines levied on bankers over the Libor scandal would go to search and rescue charities and Mr Cameron confirmed that £4 million would be made available.

He also announced £500,000 for the " community foundations there are around the country in the areas that have flooded because I think they play a key role".

The daily Points of Light awards in the US sprang from former president Bush's 1989 inaugural address where he praised the "thousand points of light" in American society.

Mr Cameron told the flood relief volunteers: "You were in many ways those thousand points of light here in the UK, so today I'm announcing that Britain is going to have its own Points of Light scheme, working in alliance with the Americans who have already had their 5,000th award given out.

" I think it's really important as a country that we recognise that people who step forward to volunteer, they are the best of British and they have shown that great British spirit and we should celebrate that properly."