Rawlsian rationale

The Rawlsian rationale preferentially targets the most vulnerable to reduce flood risk in the socially vulnerable communities (first put forward by John Rawls,1971).


The entity that may be harmed by a flood. For example, in the event of heavy rainfall (the source), flood water may propagate across the floodplain (the pathway) and inundate housing/householders (the receptor) that may suffer material damage (the harm or consequence).

Regressive policy

Policy that creates the unintended consequence of taking a proportionally greater amount in revenue from those on lower incomes than they have the potential to gain from the policy itself.


In the fuel poverty context this is usually used in reference to levies on domestic energy bills which penalise financially disadvantaged households due to the fact that fuel comprises a larger part of their domestic outgoings than higher income households.

Relative Economic Pain

A new metric proposed here that reflects the ratio of the uninsured loss to income. The REP is calculated as (1- insurance penetration) x Expected Annual Damages (direct residential) per household within the floodplain / Average Income per household within the neighbourhood.

Residential property

As defined by the national property datasets from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and used here to establish the presence of a single household.

Residual (flood) risk

The risk that remains after accounting for the performance of all FRM actions (i.e. measures to reduce the chance of flooding and those taken to reduce exposure or vulnerability).  


Social resilience has been defined as the ability of groups or communities to cope with external stresses and disturbances as a result of social, political and environmental change1.


The IPCC defines social and ecological resilience as the ability of a social or ecological system to absorb disturbances while retaining the same basic structure and ways of functioning, the capacity for self-organisation, and the capacity to adapt to stress and change2.


Addressing the personal, environmental and social factors that affect the degree a community is vulnerable to a hazard such as flood, drought or heatwave will also address how well a community is able to bounce back after the impacts of the hazard.   A community that is better able to prepare for, respond to and recover from external hazards like floods or heatwaves will be more resilient to that hazard. 


Building resilience needs to account for: the degree to which the community comes into contact with a hazard capable of causing harm; the amount of inherent susceptibility to harm in that community; and the extent to which people in the community are able to make adjustments in order to avoid negative consequences. Also see Box 1, in Which places are disadvantaged?


  1. Adger, N. 2000, ‘Social and ecological resilience: are they related?’ Progress in Human Geography 24: pp. 347–364
  2. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Parry, M. L., Canziani, O. F., Palutikof, J. P., van der Linden, P. J. and Hanson, C. E. (eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press p. 883

Return period

A statistical measure denoting the average recurrence interval in time that an event (e.g. an in-river water level) of a given magnitude equalled or exceeded (when considered over an extended period). While it is true that a 1 in 10-year event will, on average, be exceeded once within any 10-year period, this does not imply that it will not reoccur for ten years. The chance of encountering or exceeding such an event in the next 10 years is approximately 65% - the so-called encounter probability (see for example Sayers, 2015).  


The combination of the chance of an event (e.g. a flood), with the impact that the event would cause if it occurred. Risk therefore has two components - the chance (or probability) of an event occurring and the impact (or consequence) associated with that event.  

Risk-sensitive market regime

An individualistic risk-sensitive model of insurance is one where individuals’ payment into the ‘risk pool’ is proportional to their level of risk, as with private motor or travel insurance.’ It contrasts with solidaristic, risk-insensitive models or ‘forms of insurance where those bearing lower levels of risk contribute to the support of those bearing higher risk, as with the UK National Health Service’.


O’Neill, J. and O’Neill, M. (2011) Social justice and the future of flood insurance, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, page 17.