Deep public sector cuts were widely expected by those in such areas as aluminium recycling in the recent spending review, and sure enough, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne confirmed a 10% cut in spending for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It looks like the Environment Agency will also see reduced funding support with the Chancellor’s confirmation that most regulators will see a 5% real cost reduction, in news that will interest many clients of Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com).
In addition, a greater proportion of Defra’s budget is set to be devoted to flood defence works, seemingly further diminishing its ability to support work related to waste and recycling. The Chancellor also used his speech to confirm restrictions to public sector pay, with pay rises not only set to be limited to 1% in 2014-15, but automatic pay rises for time served also expected to cease.
Mr Osborne commented: “The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs will see a 10% reduction but we will set out plans for a major commitment to new flood defences for the rest of this decade. Again, prioritising long term capital through day-to-day cost savings – exactly the tough choice Britain should be making.”
Financial cuts are also on the way for Defra arms length bodies, with the Waste & Resources Action Programme expected to be included. The Chancellor confirmed that there would be “a focus on greater efficiency through coordination across the Department’s ALBs, reducing fines payable to the EU for disallowance, and prioritising spending on economically high-value areas.”
Meanwhile, to help to maintain its workload, it is expected that WRAP will be forced to seek commissions from other bodies, including from the private sector and even overseas international organisations. The cuts are sobering news for many of those involved in fields like computer recycling, with the Defra settlement representing one of the worst among the agreements between departments and the Treasury.
Not only do Defra’s departmental expenditure limits of £1.6 billion for 2015-16 – compared to £1.7 billion in 2014-15 – represent a 9.6% year-on-year real cut, but the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) is also set for an 8% cut in its departmental expenditure limits, once depreciation is accounted for. Such figures have prompted concern from many in sectors like cardboard recycling.
Deputy chief executive at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Chris Murphy, said: “We knew that this spending review would herald more tough cuts and once again, it is disappointing to see that the two key departments of critical importance to the waste sector are once again among the hardest hit.”
Clearly, as in other parts of the economy, those involved in such fields as WEEE disposal will need to work harder with diminished resources. But whatever happens to the spending power of the public sector, Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com) will continue to provide businesses across the UK with recycling services that are as vital as they are cost-effective, compliant and eco-friendly.