Environment quangos will be slashed as part of the UK Government’s spending cuts drive Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has indicated, saying her department’s arm’s length bodies would be sacrificed in order to protect frontline services such as flood defences and animal health protection. The new coalition government will cut £270m from regional development agencies (RDAs) and will cut DEFRA’s budget by £162m – in particular looking to slash £600m from quangos this year as it embarks on a radical cost-cutting drive to save £6.2bn. While the School Food Trust has emerged relatively unscathed, with bosses having to reduce budgets by just £1m (an 11% reduction), staff at the Food Standards Agency are still anxiously waiting to hear their fate as the finer detail of the proposed Public Bodies Bill to tackle quangos has yet to be spelt out. There will also be cuts at in transport spending – the Department for Transport, which has been asked to find £683m of savings in 2010-11.Describing DEFRA as “the Government’s emergency service” Ms Spelman said many of the quangos were set up in the 1970s and 1980s to perform functions that were now “mainstream”. Ministers in non-protected departments had until Friday to submit blueprints for how they would reduce spending by between 25% and a worst-case-scenario 40%. Ms Spelman told Sky News that Defra had 87 quangos, with some set up decades ago to protect the environment or rural communities. “These things are now mainstream, they are part of what the department does as a matter of course, so we can make savings from amongst those quangos,” she told the programme.
It has also been reported that plans for a £1 billion “green investment bank” to help British firms develop and use green technology were being shelved.
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