Defra Could Be Hit With 40% Cut To Budget

George-Osborne-Summer-BudgetThe Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) could have its budget cut by 40% over the next few years, Chancellor George Osborne has announced. 

Announcing plans for a Spending Review to be published November 25, Osborne will set out how the government will both invest in priority public services and deliver the £20bn further savings required to eliminate Britain’s deficit by 2019/2020.

As part of the Spending Review, Departments will set out how they will meet their share of contributions to this target.

Departments have been told to model two scenarios of potential cuts; one of 25% and one of 40%. These are the same reductions requested ahead of the Spending Review of 2010.

Osborne – “Elsewhere in government, departments will have to find significant savings through efficiencies and by devolving power, so people have a greater say over the issues that affect them and their communities. We’ll deliver more with less”

The move also affects other departments with environmental remits including the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Cuts to Departments were first announced as part of the Queen’s Speech debate in early June, when Osborne confirmed that Whitehall departments outside of protected areas like the NHS, schools and aid would contribute to a total of £383m worth of cuts. 

Cuts of £83m at Defra, £70m at DECC and £230m at DCLG will be made throughout the year, he said.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said: “This Spending Review is the next step in our plan to eliminate the deficit, run a surplus and ensure Britain lives within its means. We’ll invest in our priorities like the NHS and national security.

“Elsewhere in government, departments will have to find significant savings through efficiencies and by devolving power, so people have a greater say over the issues that affect them and their communities. We’ll deliver more with less.”

In making these savings, the Spending Review will also reaffirm the government’s commitment to invest in the NHS and national security, while protecting spending on schools and honouring its commitment to the poorest people in the world, the Government says.

By 2015/16 the government says it will have made savings of £98bn and at the same time the performance of, and the public’s satisfaction with, many public services have continued to improve:

  • satisfaction with the NHS is at its highest for years, and dissatisfaction is at its lowest ever
  • crime in England and Wales has fallen by more than a quarter since June 2010 and public confidence in the police is up
  • number of pupils taught in good or outstanding schools has increased by over a million since 2010

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement Cllr Gary Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “For many councils, there are few efficiencies left to be made and these alone will not be enough to cope with further funding reductions. Vital services, such as caring for the elderly, protecting children, collecting bins and filling potholes, will struggle to continue at current levels.

“If our public services are to survive the next few years, we urgently need a radical shift in how public money is raised and spent, combined with proper devolution of decision-making over transport, housing, skills and social care to local areas.”

Spending Review 2015: A country that lives within its means


 

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