Environment bodies suffer big cuts

2nd February 2011

Big cuts

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Defra is cutting the overall financial support it provides to the Environment Agency (EA), WRAP and its other arm's-length bodies by around 22% over the next four years.

Some bodies will suffer more than others. WRAP, for example, will see its delivery budget fall by £13.4 million in 2011/12 compared to 2010/11 – a 28% cut. The waste-reduction body will also lose all support for capital programmes, which amounted to £7.4 million in 2010, in the next financial year.

By contrast, the EA’s delivery budget in 2011/12 for environmental permitting, water and partnership activities is just 6% below the previous fi nancial year’s allocation, while money for delivering flood management is being cut by almost 5%.

At the same time, capital expenditure on flood management by the agency also falls by 27% and will remain frozen until 2014/15.

The environment department has yet to finalise delivery budgets beyond the next financial year, but it has published indicative allocations.

These reveal that between 2010/11 and 2014/15, the level of funding Defra allocates to WRAP could fall by more than one-third, from £48.1 million to £30.1 million.

The EA faces a potential reduction of more than 16% from its 2010/11 allocation for permitting, water and partnership work, while Natural England is likely to see its budget cut by 21% by 2014/15.

EA chief executive Paul Leinster acknowledged at its annual conference in November that the agency would have to operate with fewer resources. “We will have less money and there will be fewer people. But we have plans in place to counter these,” he commented.

He said that this would inevitably mean working more with other bodies, such as Natural England and local authorities. WRAP – which also receives funding from the Northern Ireland and Welsh assemblies, as well as the Scottish government – said the cut in Defra funding was in line with its expectations.

The organisation has now adopted a revised business plan and expects to make savings of more than £7.5 million in 2011.

Natural England is also revising its business strategy in light of the cuts, but hopes to minimise the impact on its core programme of work, which focuses on biodiversity conservation.

Defra is commitment to delivering savings of £661 million by 2014/15 under the Comprehensive Spending Review.

In a further move to save money, the government is consolidating business information on fewer websites.

As a result, NetRegs, the EA’s online information source, is to close by March 2011, with the information moving to the Business Link, FS4B, NI Business Info, and Business Gateway websites.

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