Government unveils Defra priorities

SUPPORTING rural communities is included in three priorities outlined by Defra's Business Plan for 2012-15.

Published by 10 Downing Street, the plan sets out Defra's priorities and reform, along with details of departmental expenditure.

The full plan can be downloaded here (pdf).

Three coalition government priorities are outlined for Defra.

They are to:

* Support and develop British farming and encourage sustainable food production

* Enhance the environment and biodiversity to improve quality of life

* Support a strong and sustainable green economy, including thriving rural communities, resilient to climate change

Specific rural priorities and targets are included under 3.11 and 3.12.

A target for publishing the government's Rural Statement is now given as July 2012.

Other rural issues include broadband investment, Rural Growth Network implementation, RDPE investment and establishing the Rural Community Renewable Energy fund.

The plan says Defra intends to create the conditions in which businesses can innovate, invest and grow; and promote rural communities.

It will seek to encourage businesses, people and communities to use natural resources sustainably and reduce waste; and ensure that the UK economy is resilient to climate change.

The format of the plan is standard across all government departments.

As well as coalition priorities, it outlines a structural reform plan - the key actions the department will take to implement those priorities.

It also includes details of the department's planned expenditure and indicators to help assess the impact on public services.

The plans were launched by Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy, on Thursday (31 May).

"We have taken some radical steps in the last twelve months to transform our public services, tailoring services around the needs of the user rather than expecting everyone to accept an expensive one size fits all solution."

He added: "It is vital that we carry on this work, making sure that in every area we are improving services and devolving power."

Progress on the implementation of business plans across government can be tracked here.

Defra's Business Plan will be updated annually.


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