There are a bewildering array of other elements behind the headline % cuts which are lower than predicted. Smoke and mirrors, billions down the back of the sofa, an OBR windfall (£27bn) is how the ‘new’ money has been described. The Defra statement is set out below. Three elements begin to emerge:

  1. The flood infrastructure budget has remained intact although efficiencies are being set.
  2. The Defra network bodies (‘Defra family’ is out) – their backroom functions are to be merged saving £123 million over 5 years.
  3. The impacts of the budget cuts will be set out in Defra’s single departmental plan, which a spokesperson for the department says will be published before the end of the year.

Defra  ‘The Chancellor has published the results of the spending review, including details of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) budget over the course of this parliament. The Spending Review and Autumn Statement deliver on the government’s priority to provide security to working people at every stage of their lives. It sets out a 4 year plan to fix the public finances, return the country to surplus and run a healthy economy that starts to pay down the debt. By ensuring Britain’s long term economic security, the government is able to spend £4 trillion on its priorities over the next 4 years.

For Defra this means:

  • protection of flood defence funding, including the £2.3 billion 6-year capital investment programme to better protect over 300,000 homes
  • over £130 million capital investment in Defra’s science estates and equipment, including funding to enhance national outbreak response capabilities
  • £3 billion investment to safeguard England’s countryside through the Common Agricultural Policy, and protection of over £350 million funding for public forests, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty over the Spending Review period
  • resource savings of 15% in real terms by 2019-20; delivered through efficiencies within the department and across its network

Water briefing ‘The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has seen its budget cut by 15% over the course of this parliament in the Spending Review – but the Chancellor said the £2.3 billion flood defence spend had been protected.

George Osborne told MPs yesterday that resource savings of 15% in real terms by 2019-20 would be  delivered through efficiencies within the department and across its network.

However, the government would continue to prioritise investment in flood defences, he said.

The government’s £2.3 billion capital programme will invest in over 1,500 schemes to give 300,000 homes greater security from flooding by 2021. Flood defence maintenance funding would also be protected and Defra would work with the Environment Agency to generate 10% efficiencies by 2019-20 with all savings reinvested to better protect another 4,000 homes.

The government said that via its ambitious efficiencies programme, Defra will become a more streamlined, digital department, sharing back office functions like IT, human resources and finance with its network bodies to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, and devolving roles to the local frontline to ensure effective service delivery. Through this programme, Defra will reduce its administration budgets by 26% by 2019‑20, saving £123 million.£23bn-flood-defence-spend-protected

Resource – waste and resources industry

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