Agency will not ‘neglect’ waste in face of cuts

Posted on 28th February, 2014

Defra minister for farming, food and marine environment George Eustice has sought to allay fears that waste will be side-lined in the wake of cuts at the Environment Agency.
The Camborne and Redruth MP said impending cuts to staff and recent flooding would not affect the Agency’s ability to address waste-related issues.
Defra and the Environment Agency faced criticism for their response to flooding, which devastated areas of the UK including Somerset, Surrey and Berkshire and left communities underwater.
Mr Eustice said: “All agencies have been faced with spending considerations in recent years. However, what’s very clear is the Environment Agency told us that with the budget we have got, we can still meet flooding concerns. They have managed to save a lot of money by removing back office costs, and the Environment Agency can also make savings through its various procurement commitments.
“The floods are obviously a large issue but just because that is a major concern, it doesn’t mean that we will be neglecting waste at all or any of the other priorities Defra believes are key.”
The comments come in the wake of calls for clarity from MPs last month, who demanded Defra explain which policies and programmes would be affected by the ‘massive’ £300 million cuts to the department between now and 2016.
There are fears that the Environment Agency, an organisation funded by Defra, will be particularly badly affected by the cuts, after it emerged last year that an estimated 1,700 staff were likely to be cut by October 2014.