Environment Agency forced to cut 1,700 jobs

28th October 2013

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The Environment Agency has confirmed it will make close to 15% of its staff redundant over the next 12 months, as its funding is cut by £33.5 million

In his 2013 Budget, the chancellor announced that Defra’s administrative budget would be slashed by 9.6%, leaving the department with £100 million less to spend in 2015/16 than in 2014/15.

With funding on flood management and protection ringfenced, savings will have to come from other areas and Treasury confirmed it expected the department’s bodies, including the Environment Agency, to save £54 million through “better joint working”.

In a memo to its staff on 10 October, the agency’s chief executive Paul Leinster confirmed that core funding streams were likely to be cut by around £33.5 million in 2015/16, forcing the regulator to reduce its headcount from 11,400 to around 10,000 over the next three years.

However, the agency has now revealed that bigger job cuts are needed, and that these posts will be lost over the next 12 months.

“Our budget for 2014/15 will be confirmed shortly. However, we are likely to reduce staff numbers…to around 9,700 by October 2014,” said a spokesperson.

“We will then aim to keep numbers broadly at that level through to March 2015, dependent of course on future funding. We will only achieve this by looking across the whole organisation at our ways of working and structures.”

The agency’s chair, Lord Chris Smith, and its chief executive wrote a separate communication to employees earlier in the month, acknowledging the challenge of meeting the requirements of the spending review,

“We have to balance our continuing ambitions for people and the environment with the knowledge that we will have significantly reduced funding for many important areas of our work,” they wrote.

“We will need to look for efficiencies at all levels of the Environment Agency, as we seek to protect our environmental outcomes. We know that we are likely to be a smaller organisation in the future.”

Alongside considering whether work delivered at a regional level could be provided at a local or national level, the agency is considering outsourcing its HR and finance functions to a private sector firm as a part of a Cabinet Office initiative for public sector bodies to share service providers.

Defra’s triennial review of the agency and Natural England, concluded earlier this that there were significant opportunities to reform the delivery of the functions and services undertaken by both bodies, including better integration of land management activities and consolidation of planning processes.

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