17:13 07 January 2014
The Environment Department’s budget has been cut by £500million since 2010 and it faces further costs of more than £300million over the next two years. Because of this, MPs warned that the department’s ability to deal with emergencies such as the recent floods may be affected.
Meanwhile, Parliament’s Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs committee has called for the protection of the department’s ability to deal with crises, which include horse-meat scandal and flooding.
In response to growing concern, the government has pledged to increase spending on the new flood defence schemes to £370million in 2015-2016.
Committee chairwoman Anne McIntosh said: "Ministers must clarify how further budget cuts over £300m over the next coming two years will impact on the funding provided to these agencies and the ability of the department to respond to emergencies."
She added: "Recent flooding events over the Christmas and New Year period reinforce the committee's concerns about cuts to the Defra budget and how these will be realised.”
Environment Minister George Eustice said that flood defence will be prioritised.
He added: "While there have been hundreds of properties that have been flooded - and that's a tragedy for those involved and I know it's the worst possible thing that can happen to people over Christmas - there have been hundreds of thousands of homes protected by all the infrastructure and investment we have made in flood defences."
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