Members of the recycling sector have expressed concern about the 10 per cent cut to Defra’s budget announced by Chancellor George Osborne.
In the year 2015-16, Defra’s departmental expenditure limits will be £1.6 billion compared to £1.7 billion in 2014-15, which represents a 9.6 per cent year-on-year real cut.
Meanwhile, an 8 per cent cut was announced for DECC in its departmental expenditure limits when depreciation is taken into account leaving it at £1 billion.
CIWM deputy chief executive 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.
“CIWM has already voiced concerns about Defra’s ability to deliver within its current resources, and today’s outcome deepens our concern.
“As 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 coming years, including – but by no means limited to – robust engagement with the EU’s review of waste policy and legislation, the 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.”
Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson said: “It always looked like it would be a tough cut for Defra and this has proved to be the case. We recognise the need for toughness in reducing public spending but are concerned that cuts in the wrong places could lead to flatlining of the progress we have made in recent years on recycling and resource efficiency.
“There is much still to do to reach European best practice levels of recycling and resource efficiency – from effective regulation of MRF output to improve recyclate quality through to proper enforcement of waste regulations to drive out rogue operators and enhance a strong mainstream industry, as well as support councils in ensuring that collection systems and communications work well.
“All of this and more need clarity, leadership and support from Government to help industry play its full part. In a diminishing funding regime for Defra, all of this will be even harder to achieve, despite the valiant efforts of many.”