Spelman reaches deal to slash DEFRA budget by ‘one third’

DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman is among five ministers to have agreed budget cuts ahead of next month’s spending review.

Mrs Spelman is said to have agreed that DEFRA’s budget will be reduced by about one third as the government cuts public spending.

In return, she has earned a seat on the Cabinet’s Star Chamber, which will impose cuts on ministers who refuse to reach agreement.

Other departments to have agreed cuts are the Treasury, Cabinet Office, Foreign Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The remainder have been told to agree to budget cuts by next month.

Chancellor George Osborne is due to outline the government’s comprehensive spending review on 20 October.

Departments have been told to expect cuts of 25-40% as the government sets about balancing Britain’s £155bn budget deficit.

The NFU has warned that the industry faces the most severe spending restraint since the 1930s, with limits set for the next five years.

It has called on DEFRA to prioritise efficiency savings and reduce back-office costs before cutting front-line services.

But farm leaders accept that the extent of the budget deficit means that no area of government will be immune from cutbacks,

News that Mrs Spelman had reached a deal on her departmental budget came as a leaked list suggested that more than 50 rural bodies face the axe.

They are among 177 government bodies due to be scrapped, according to a Cabinet Office list leaked to the Daily Telegraph.

The list includes the Agricultural Wages Board, 15 Agricultural Wages Committees and 16 Agricultural Dwelling House Committees.

Also on the list are the Advisory Committee on Pesticides, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the Farm Animal Welfare Council.

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