Staffing cuts at the Government’s waste programme has been attacked by Labour.
Ministers revealed the number of Defra waste officials has been slashed by more than a quarter in just a year and a half.
Environment minister Richard Benyon, responding to a parliamentary question by Labour’s Gavin Shuker (left), said the number of full time equivalent employees at the department’s waste programme had fallen from 78.23 in March 2011, to 57.61 in October 2012, a cut of over 26%.
Shuker, Labour’s shadow waste minister, called on ministers to reconsider the cuts.
He told MRW: “Waste and resources should be a growth industry in this country, with Government working to support the sector. Instead they are slashing back at the department with responsibility for it.”
The news came as industry leaders responded to new departmental cuts announced in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
George Osborne said Defra, along other Government departments, would have its funding cut by 1% in 2013/14, and a further 2% the following year.
Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) chief executive Steve Lee said: “While the cuts to Defra’s budget over the next two years were both expected and are less severe that some had predicted, CIWM remains concerned about the resourcing and strength of Defra as the lead department on sustainable waste and resource management.”
He said the sector needed a department capable of providing leadership and policy to support the industry’s role in green growth.
Defra did not respond to MRW’s request for a comment.