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Defra announces withdrawal of funding for Sustainable Development Commission

The coalition Government is to withdraw its funding for the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), environment secretary Caroline Spelman announced earlier today (22 July).

Jointly funded by the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Government, as well as various coalition Government departments, the SDC is charged with advising the first ministers of each country on issues of sustainable development. The commission is also tasked with holding governments to account over their own sustainability credentials.

Without funding, the SDC will now rely on financial support from the devolved administrations. However, the continued provision of such support is still under discussion.

Spelman said: “The effective delivery of public services is essential, and I am committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of Defra’s public bodies and to reducing their numbers and costs.  Times have changed since many of these bodies were set up and much of what they do is now everyday Government business.”

SDC chair Will Day defended the work of the commission. “Our work has delivered efficiency savings totalling many times what the organisation has cost the Government, and contributed towards much greater sustainability in Government – both in the way it runs itself, and the decisions it makes about our wellbeing and our future,” he said

“We note the commitment of the secretaries of state for Defra and DECC to playing a lead role on sustainable development across Government. We await with interest the details of how a degree of cross-government independent scrutiny is to be achieved.”

The announcement of the decision to withdraw funding comes as the SDC published its latest report on the Government’s sustainability targets.

The report found that the Government was on course to meet its target of reducing waste arisings in departments by 40% by 2010, with a 478% recycling rate for 2008/09, an improvement of 13 percentage points over the previous year.

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