Defra has delivered more than 650 regulatory reforms during the past three years, cutting red tape by 20%, while officials continue to tackle internal leadership and engagement issues.
Outgoing permanent secretary Bronwyn Hill said in the department’s latest annual report that it had simplified and reduced its guidance by 700 pages, around 80%, as part of its Red Tape Challenge initiative.
The report said: “Defra made a significant contribution to the Government’s commitment to reduce the overall burden of regulation by the end of the Parliament. These reforms will reduce regulatory costs to business arising from Defra’s legislation, or other regulatory activity, by around £300m per year.”
Staff motivation with regards to pay and benefits had dropped while improvements were seen in other areas, it also noted.
The engagement index, using data from the civil service people survey in October 2014, said staff motivation increased overall by two points to 54% for the core department and 51% including agencies.
On leadership and managing change, the core department’s score rose by three points to 38%, still below the civil service benchmark.
The report said: “Leadership and managing change will continue to be an area of specific focus for the 2015 engagement plan.”
With regards to performance, Defra said it has completed 59 of the strategic priorities and objectives set out in its 2013-15 business plan, with eight in progress and just three overdue. None of these related to recycling.
England’s 44.2% household waste recycling rate in 2013, up 0.1 percentage points from the previous year, was quoted in the report. It noted that the figure was up by three points since 2010, the earliest year for which data for this specific measure are available.
Defra said in its report: “Though the rate of increase has slowed, the department is keeping progress under review and remains committed to meeting the 2020 EU target for 50% of waste from households being recycled.”