DEFRA will have to cut its spending by £162m over the next year, the Chancellor has announced.
In a package of measures designed to cut more than £6bn in public spending in 2010/2011, George Osborne said the department would see its budget reduced by about 5%.
The cut, announced on Monday (24 May), was part of the government’s pledge to cut wasteful spending in a bid to balance the record budget deficit.
Warning it would not be the last “difficult spending decision” the coalition had to make, Mr Osborne said the government would save a further £600m by cutting the cost of quangos.
Regional Development Agencies would also have to cut back on spending, he warned.
Treasury secretary David Laws said an Efficiency Group would be set up to find ways to make further cuts in IT programmes, consultancy and advertising.
“This action is designed to send a shock-wave through Government departments, to focus ministers and civil servants on whether spending in these areas is really a priority in the difficult times we are now facing,” he added.
Farm leaders had previously warned the coalition government that any cuts in DEFRA’s budget had to allow UK agriculture remain competitive.
NFU president Peter Kendall said: “For us, protecting the competitiveness of the food and farming sector is paramount.
“The challenge of ensuring food supplies for the UK and the rest of the world is simply too great and too serious for it to be put at risk.”