Friday, 24 September 2010 11:21

Axe looms over rural agencies

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Government bodies face an unclear future Government bodies face an unclear future

MORE than 50 rural-related groups face the axe under government plans to reduce Britain’s budget deficit.

The Defra bodies are among 177 bodies set to be abolished following next month’s comprehensive spending review.

Austerity measures due to be announced by Chancellor George Osborne on 20 October will see spending cuts across government.

Departments face having to make savings ranging from 25-40% as the government tries to balance the budget.

The abolition of some organisations – such as the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) – has already been confirmed.

Also to be axed are eight regional development agencies, which are being replaced by local enterprise partnerships.

Some of the other bodies named - such as the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit - have already closed.

The full list of 177 bodies is contained in a Cabinet Office document leaked to the Daily Telegraph.

It includes a further 94 bodies which remain under threat of abolition, an additional four which will be privatised and 129 due to be merged.

Some 350 other bodies have won a reprieve, suggests the list.

The CRC will be wound up by 31 March 2010, with some of its work transferred to a new rural communities policy unit within Defra.

A commission spokesman said all official files and records would be passed to Defra for use by the new policy unit.

“We are aware that many organisations and individuals have been using our evidence and will want to be able to access this material beyond our existence.”

The commission website will no longer be maintained but the material on ity will be archived and made available via the National Archives.

Many of the commission’s publications are already in the British Library.

The commission would now work with stakeholders to ensure that its evidence remained accessible after its demise, said the spokesman

“We are committed to doing what we can in the time left to us to ensure that the public investment in the CRC’s evidence work remains in our legacy.”

Similar measures are being taken to ensure information remnains availabler from other bodies due to be axed.

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