Defra cuts WRAP funding

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) will have its funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) cut to 60 per cent in 2015/16, taking its UK government funding down to £15.5 million, the advisory body has announced.

For 2014/15, WRAP expects its budget from Defra to be around £18 million.

Defra currently funds around half of WRAP’s activities, which include promoting recycling, reuse and waste management activities, with the Welsh and Scottish Governments and other funders providing the rest.

The massive cut forms part of Defra’s response to yesterday’s (26 June) Spending Review, which outlined that the government department will itself lose 10 per cent of its resources budget in 2015/16. It follows on from a May consultation on the future of WRAP's funding.

In January 2013, Defra announced it was to cut WRAP’s 2013/14 budget by 11 per cent, down to £26 million from £56 million in 2009/10. This latest announcement will mean that for the seven years running to 2015/16, the department will have reduced WRAP’s funding by 72 per cent (£40.5 million).

Cut neither ‘unexpected nor surprising’

GoodwinSpeaking of the cut, Liz Goodwin Chief Executive of WRAP said today (27 June): “This funding reduction from Defra is clearly significant but is neither unexpected nor surprising given the UK government’s commitment to reducing the budget deficit. WRAP has been determined to play its part in that, and we have been actively engaged with Defra during this process. 

“We will still be receiving significant funding which will allow WRAP to continue to make a major contribution to boosting economic growth and achieving improved use of resources.”

Despite the cut, Goodwin said that Defra still had “confidence” in WRAP’s work, and that the settlement was a “huge vote of confidence in the work WRAP does”.

She said: “Defra’s confidence in us and our work echoes what many of our partners have been saying about the value they place on WRAP’s ability to deliver two of Defra’s core objectives – boosting the economy and improving the environment – and especially our ability to turn insight into practical action that makes a difference. I am delighted that Defra has recognised the value of this role. I am also pleased they recognise that we need to be adequately funded, to make the biggest impact and deliver the best return. 

“Less money means rightly that we will need to focus on fewer priorities and stop doing some lower impact work. Tackling food waste will remain at the heart of WRAP’s work for all funders. We will be discussing the detail of our future work with Defra over the coming weeks.” 

However, Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association argued that the cut will have a negative impact: "The further significant scaleback of Defra funding for WRAP will undoubtedly have negative consequences for the pace of change needed to deliver a resource efficient green economy. It is a disappointment, but no surprise. We hope that WRAP and Defra will engage fully with stakeholders as they go through the process of reprioritising their activities  - it is in everyone’s interests that this happens and we will do our best to support them in this process.”

Matthew Farrow, Director of Policy at the Environmental Services Association continued: “This cut while significant is understandable given the fiscal pressures on the government.  While WRAP has done some strong work across all areas of the waste hierarchy we believe that in implementing this cut it should focus on where it can make a difference at the top of the waste hierarchy – prevention and reuse -  and on expanding the market for recyclate and recycled products.  We welcome the initial indication from WRAP that tackling food waste will remain a key objective. 

"We are also conscious of the way the reduction in Defra funding weights the balance of WRAP income towards the devolved administrations. We need to find a way of encouraging innovative policy thinking in those administrations while also recognising that many waste and resources markets are UK wide and serviced by companies operating across the borders within Britain.”

Goodwin added that WRAP will work to “secure other sources of income to further diversify [its] funding base…WRAP remains in very good shape and we are confident about the future”.