Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why does this government spend less on the environment than culture, media and sport?

Here are some interesting facts about government spending.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is just about the smallest government department of all.

Its annual budget is £2.52 billion, but it has to spend 48% - £1.2bn - of that on nuclear decommissioning and nuclear waste management.

Therefore the amount of DECC's budget which it is able to spend on policy is a mere £1.32bn a year.

To put this in perspective, benefit spending in Great Britain is over 100 times more at £147.7 billion.

With 1% of the benefits budget, DECC's minister, Chris Huhne, is trying to save the planet and keep the lights on.

At the same time, DECC is hamstrung by the Treasury's Levy cap, which says that its approval is needed where policies could set a "potentially expensive precedent", amongst several other conditions.

The Department of the Environment Farming and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, is also one of the government's lowest spenders at just under £3 billion annually.

This means it receives less than consultancy Capita, the Government's favourite, single largest outsourcing firm (it received £3.3bn of contracts over the first five months of the Coalition Government alone).

Together, DECC and DEFRA's combined budget is less than that of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's £6.97 billion.

Think about that: to this government, culture, media and sport is worth more than energy, environment and climate change.

Together, these departments are therefore pitching above their weight against the contrary inclinations of their main adversaries: the Treasury officials, with a budget of over £40 billion; and BIS, which has £26.25 billion to spend every year.

(Let's recall that the Treasury's last Budget was labeled the "blackest in living memory" by George Monbiot, and 79% of BusinessGreen website users agreed.)

In last year's Spending Review, Defra eagerly volunteered to deliver savings of £661m by 2015.

The budget for its arm's-length bodies was slashed by over 30% and led to the merging of WRAP and Envirowise with a 37.5% reduced budget and just 11 remaining ALBs.

WRAP and (DECC's arm's-length-body) the Carbon Trust are to have all their direct funding cut from April next year and have to bid competitively for contracts to do their work.

Is this the greenest government ever?

1 comment:

Baronmax said...

Er... no!

Great piece