By Damian Carrington

Private companies aren’t investing in the sector as expected to stump up a quarter of £2.3bn needed to protect 300,000 properties

England’s flood defences face a £600m hole unless ministers can demonstrate that the private sector will deliver the sum, a committee of MPs warned on Tuesday.

The government has cut spending on flood defences since 2010, but has sought to supplement the money available by attracting investment from private companies.