The Environment Agency last year received a £723m grant from the taxpayer and spent in total £1207m, the rest paid for by charges.
The staff costs of the Agency rose by £30m or 8% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of £395.3 million. The Agency employed 12,252 people including temps and contractor personnel. Pension contributions cost £56 m , with a loss on the fund recognised that year in the accounts bringing the total pension cost to £197.4 million. The total cost of pensions was almost as high as the capital works, where they spent £219million during the year.
Within the capital works just £20.3 million was spent on improving or maintaining culverts and channels to ensure free flow of water. That is a mere 1.7% of their total budget, or 3.4% of their staff and pension costs. A further £69.6m was spent on improving embankments.
It looks as if the Agency has got the balance of its budget wrong. It clearly needs to spend more on keeping culverts, ditches and rivers in a good state to be able to handle large quantities of water when we have heavy rains. The Agency spends a lot on people to warn us of approaching hazards, and to map and discuss the problems as they arise. It needs to do more and spend more of its large budget on works on the ground, probably using contractors not on its own payroll, to keep the water flowing.
It is an interesting to note that under the Coalition this quango has continued to be chaired by a senior Labour person. There does not seem to have been any attempt to remove the Labour Chairman, and he has clearly not made sufficient attempt to get value for money nor to ensure the Agency’s priorities are our priorities – keeping people and property safe from floods, and ensuring a good supply of clean fresh water for households and businesses. There is no evidence here to support Labour Lady Morgan’s claims.