The Government has been forced to deny claims that austerity cuts will hit flood defences - despite reports that hundreds of frontline jobs are being cut.
Unions said axing around 550 staff from the flood team would inevitably affect services after Environment Agency chief executive Paul Leinster admitted risk maintenance "will be (further) impacted".
After chairing a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee about the latest flooding , Environment Secretary Owen Paterson defended the Government's spending on defences.
He said he had been assured by Mr Leinster he had "every intention" of sparing frontline flood work.
"This Government is spending more than any previous government on flood defences - 165,000 properties will be protected by 2015," he said.
However, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said the Coalition had overseen a real-terms cut in flood defence spending.
He said: "On the same day that the Environment Agency chief executive said that it's inevitable that Defra's cuts will impact on their ability to deal with flooding, Owen Paterson's bizarre claim that these frontline services will be protected will ring hollow for all those affected by the current flooding.
"Every £1 invested in protecting us from flooding saves £8 in damages - cutting flood defence spending is a false economy and David Cameron now needs to intervene."
GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: "The public need to know that job losses on this scale will impact specifically directly on flood risk management, on flood defence operations teams managing flood defences and carrying out river maintenance."
The Government came under fire from MPs in July for failing to devote sufficient resources to protecting homes and businesses from severe weather.
Chancellor George Osborne hailed in his spending review what he called a "major commitment" of around £370m a year up to 2015 to boosting defences.
But in a scathing assessment, the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee said that lagged significantly behind what was required to meet the rising threat.
The Environment Agency estimates that by 2020, investment needs to hit £550m a year to keep pace with climate and population changes.
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