Thursday, 22 July 2010 16:01

Axe falls on 36 more Defra bodies

Written by  Ruralcity Media

A FURTHER 35 government bodies are to be axed, rural affairs secretary Caroline Spelman has confirmed.

bigbenThey include the Sustainable Development Commission, which acts as the government’s sustainability watchdog.

Ministers believe focusing responsibility for sustainable development policy within Defra will improve accountability, avoid duplication and be more efficient.

Defra has around 90 such arms length bodies, which all face reduced budgets due to public spending cuts.

The latest round of cuts were announced on Thursday (22 July) in a ministerial statement which can be seen here.

Arms-length Defra bodies facing abolition include:

Most of their remits covered areas now covered by the government as a matter of course. Others were no longer necessary.

“Reducing the deficit is the priority for the government and all departments are playing their part in making efficiency savings,” said Mrs Spelman.

“Together with [energy secretary] Chris Huhne I am determined to play the lead role in driving the sustainability agenda across the whole of government.

“I am not willing to delegate this responsibility to an external body.”

Mrs Spelman insisted that the effective delivery of public services remained essential.

But she added: “I am committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of Defra’s public bodies and to reducing their numbers and costs.

“Times have changed since many of these bodies were set up and much of what they do is now everyday government business.”

The review of arms-length bodies would make Defra a leaner, stronger department, Mrs Spelman said.

It would give the department a renewed and clearer focus on its key priorities and a simplified structure for delivering those priorities.

The latest cuts follow confirmation last month that the Commission for Rural Communities is to be axed.

Further cuts to other arms-length bodies are expected to be announced over the coming weeks.

Approvals to carry out the abolitions and dissolutions of Defra’s arms-length bodies will be made via the government's Public Bodies Reform Bill.

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