Spending Review: DEFRA budget to be cut 24%

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Defra

Spelman: "Greenest government ever?"
Spelman: "Greenest government ever?"
The budget at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will drop from £2.9bn in 2010/11 to £2.2bn in 2014/15 – a 24% drop – the Treasury has revealed.

Over the course of the Spending Review period, DEFRA will reduce resource spending by 29% and capital spending by 34%, while its administration budget will be slashed by a third, said DEFRA secretary of state Caroline Spelman.

“Our strategic aim is to deliver on the Prime Minister’s pledge that the coalition will be the greenest government ever….this settlement reflects the need to make significant savings alongside meeting the priorities we have set.

“DEFRA will reprioritise its spending, focusing the taxpayer’s money on British farming and food production; enhancing the environment and biodiversity; and supporting a green economy resilient to climate change."

Where will the savings be made?

RUNNING COSTS​: Administration costs will be cut by £174m through reductions in staff numbers, more efficient IT and procurement practices (working with the Environment Agency and the Efficiency and Reform Group to review existing procurement strategies); increased use of shared services across government and reducing the size and cost of DEFRA’S corporate estate.

QUANGOS​:​ The number of quangos DEFRA funds will be reduced from 92 to 39. For example, abolishing the Commission for Rural Communities is expected to save £18m over the spending review period. Others will be retained,but 'streamlined', notably the Environment Agency, which will become "a more efficient and customer-focused organisation".​ Other quangos, such as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, remain "under consideration"​ with DEFRA promising to "initiate a debate with industry about the future of the body"​, which would include looking at "non public sector options"

EU MATCHED FUNDING​: DEFRA will also maximise the use of matched European funding for the Rural Development Programme for England, “enabling a £66m reduction in domestic contributions”​. This will allow environmental stewardship schemes to remain open to all farmers. DEFRA will in turn prioritise schemes that will be most beneficial to the environment, increasing the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme by 80%.

FLOOD AND COASTAL DEFENCES​: An expected 15% efficiency saving will be made in the procurement strategy for flood and coastal defences.

DISEASE CONTROL​: Money will also be saved from “making more efficient use of resources for animal welfare and disease prevention and control, by taking forward proposals to involve the industry in sharing the responsibility and cost of disease control”.

BRITISH WATERWAYS​: British Waterways will be abolished as a public corporation in England and Wales, with a new waterways charity to be created.

WASTE PFI PROJECTS:​ Funding will be stopped for seven private finance initiative projects on waste treatment infrastructure, “which, on reasonable assumptions, will no longer be needed to meet landfill diversion targets set by the EU",​ says DEFRA. This will reduce estimated PFI expenditure by £3m a year in 2014-15 rising to £26m a year from 2017/18 onward.

RED TAPE​: A task force on farming regulation will report back by early 2011 on how to reduce red tape and unnecessary burdens on farmers and food producers.

STAFF CAR SCHEME​: Last but not least, reforming the Environment Agency’s staff lease car scheme will save up to £3m a year.

Click here to see the Treasury's full spending review announcement.

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