DEFRA has been told to deliver £194m of savings as the government slashes spending in the wake of the Budget.

Chancellor Alistair Darling reaffirmed the government’s commitment to making £11bn in efficiency savings by 2012/13 on Wednesday (24 March).

DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn said the department and its delivery bodies would do its bit to achieve “substantial and vital savings” in public spending.

“We intend to make these savings in a way that will have the least possible impact on the people who rely on DEFRA and its agencies,” he said.

More efficient and effective ways of working would take precedence over any cuts in public services, suggested Mr Benn.

A reduction spending on consultants would save £25m by 2012/13. Better use of facilities would save £9m a year in 2012/13, rising to £11m a year by 2013/14.

DEFRA also plans to save £100m in finance, human resources, ICT and procurement administration costs by improving efficiency and stopping low-priority activities, including some IT projects.

About 85% of this saving will be made through DEFRA’s agencies and arms-length bodies, although exact details are yet to emerge.