Government claims that it is spending more than ever before on flood defences have been undermined by official figures which reveal a reduction under the coalition.
Updated figures from the Environment Department (Defra) show it is spending £2.34 billion in the current four year spending review period (2011-2015) compared to £2.37 billion spent in the previous four years (2007-2011).
The figures, which are an update and correction to previous figures published last April, appear to contradict claims by ministers of increased spending on flood defences
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has claimed "this Government is spending more on flood defences than any previous government", while Prime Minister David Cameron said that £2.3 billion was being spent "in this current four-year period", compared to £2.1 billion in the previous period.
It later emerged that the PM's figure of £2.3 billion was for the period 2010/11-2013/14, which includes the final year of the last Labour government's financial commitments when spending reached a high of £670 million, and the £2.1 billion was for 2006/7-2009/10.
As the new figures were published, Defra claimed on Twitter that "figures show we are spending £2.3bn on flood defences. Together with partners this is more money than ever."
But the department has not released figures for the contribution made by "partners" to flood defence spending.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: "Owen Paterson's own department has now been forced to admit it has cut flood defence spending, despite claims to the contrary by the beleaguered Environment Secretary.
"On the basis of these figures, it appears both Mr Paterson and the Prime Minister have misled Parliament and the public.
"They must apologise, but most of all they need to get serious about defending the country from increasing flooding as climate change worsens.
"This means greater investment in flood defences and reversing damaging cuts to the Environment Agency. It also means halting their reckless pursuit of shale gas, which will increase climate change and make flooding worse."