Chancellor George Osborne delivered the Government’s Spending Review this afternoon, and revealed an 8% cut in funding for the Department for Energy and a 10% reduction for Defra.
Osborne outlined three key principles to the spending review: reform, growth, and fairness, stating: “We are all in it together…” and that “…those with the broadest shoulders bear the largest burden.” Borrowing for this year is set to be £108bn, compared to £157bn under the last government according to Osborne; total government expenditure for 2015-16 will be £745bn – but the Government still needs to make £11.5bn of savings he stated, £5bn of which will come from efficiency savings.
While the impact the cuts to DECC and Defra will have are as yet unknown, unsurprisingly the responses from across the waste and resources sector are one of concern. “We knew that this Spending Review would herald more tough cuts and once again, but it is disappointing to see that the two key departments of critical importance to the waste sector are once again among the hardest hit,” commented CIWM in its post-review statement.
CIWM – “CIWM has already voiced unease about Defra’s ability to deliver within its current resources, and today’s outcome deepens our concern”
“CIWM has already voiced unease about Defra’s ability to deliver within its current resources, and today’s outcome deepens our concern. At a time when resource efficiency and security is moving up the agenda, waste policy in England is suffering from a lack of ambition and there is a real risk that we will come to a standstill. Defra has important work to do in the coming years, including – but by no means limited to – robust engagement with the EU’s Review of Waste Policy & Legislation, the development and delivery of a National Waste Prevention Plan, guidance on TEEP to support local authorities in their decision making on waste collections, and consulting on and developing a strategy to streamline environmental guidance and data management.” The full CIWM statement is available here.
Following the letter sent to Lord de Mauley earlier in the week by CIWM, ESA, the Resource Association and the REA, ESA’s Director of Policy, Matthew Farrow, reinforced the importance of not cutting back on resources to tackle waste crime: “Given the £11.5bn shortfall… it is not surprising that the Defra budget has taken a hefty blow. Defra Ministers will now need to make some difficult choices in allocating the reduced spend, but it is vital that funding for tackling waste crime is protected. At a time when the Environment Agency is still identifying new illegal waste sites more quickly than it can shut down existing ones, any let up on the criminal behaviour which both blights communities.”
More responses to the spending review will follow…