Funding to tackle sewage scandal slashed in Autumn Statement

29 Nov 2023

EMBARGO: Immediate Release

  • The budget for the Environment Department has been slashed by £500m in real terms.

  • This includes money for the Environment Agency, meaning funding for ending the sewage scandal will fall by 11% next year.

  • The Chancellor has been accused of “letting water companies off the hook.”

Buried in the small print of the Autumn Statement is confirmation that the Environment Department’s budget will fall by 11% next year, directly impacting the Conservative  government’s attempts to deal with the sewage scandal.

Overall, the DEFRA budget will fall from £4.7bn in 2022/2023 to £4.1bn in 2024/2025. This amounts to a real-terms cut of £500 million.

This includes funding for the Environment Agency, the watchdog tasked with enforcing rules to prevent water firms from dumping sewage into rivers and beaches.

The Chancellor also failed to mention the sewage scandal once in his statement to the Commons this week.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on the Environment Tim Farron MP said: 

“The Conservative government is once again letting polluting firms off the hook. By slashing environmental funding it makes it harder to tackle the sewage scandal, protect wildlife and prepare for floods. 

"The public will be rightly furious at this cut whilst water firms get away with destroying rivers and coastlines. It shows the government just doesn’t care about the environment. 

“We need this spending protected, a new water industry regulator to go after polluting firms and a government which actually wants to protect our precious environment.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

DEFRA day-to-day spending (£bn)

 

2022-23

2023-24

2024-25

Current prices

4.4

4.4

4.2

GDP Deflator (OBR)

112.4

119.3

121.3

Real terms (2023-24 prices)

4.7

4.4

4.1

Real-terms cut since 2022-23

 

0.3

0.5

 

5.7%

11.5%

Resource Departmental Expenditure Limits excluding depreciation in Autumn Statement 2023, Table 2.1

GDP Deflator from OBR, Economic and Fiscal Outlook, Economy supplementary table 1.7

 


 

 

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