Waste Management & Recycling Solutions

WRAP braced for Defra review

WRAP to Face the Chill of Review and Further Reduction in Funding from DEFRA

The slashing of the budgets of Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), the official body of UK waste strategies, continues for yet another year 2013-14. DEFRA announced the budget for the administration and program costs of WRAP for the year 2013-14 at £25.74 million. This figure is evidently lower by 11% than the sanctioned amount of £28.8 million for the year 2012-13. In addition to this, DEFRA also announced the review of WRAP to be conducted this year to map its performance. The confirmed dates of the review are not yet decided though.

The Waste and Resource Action Program (WRAP) is a non-profit body established in the year 2000 to help the individuals, communities and businesses utilize the available resources in a sustainable way. It is the official body for waste management in the United Kingdom. WRAP has worked with a number of partner organizations for the waste reduction in various sectors including the construction and retail. The program has helped in setting up of mixed plastic and food-grade plastic recycling facilities in the UK and facilitated tonnes of waste recycling in the last few years. Campaigns like “Recycle Now” and “Love Food, Hate Waste” have gained much attention and appreciation among people across the UK.

The funding for WRAP is provided by DEFRA and the governments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the European Union. WRAP developed a business plan for waste management in England for the period of 2011 to 2015 in 2010. The plan focused on prevention and recycling of waste in sectors, like construction, food supply, chain, electrical and textiles. WRAP has received many accolades and awards till date for its work in sustainable waste management.

Five Year Fund Reduction plan by DEFRA

Back in the year 2010, DEFRA announced the five year funds plan for all of its remote bodies that included Keep Britain Tidy, WRAP and Environmental Agency. The plan was to cut the overall funding of these bodies by 22% and bring it down to £600 million by the year 2014-15. As a result, the core funding from DEFRA for WRAP was reduced by 38% to £34.7 million for the year 2011-12 from £48.1 million in the previous year. Furthermore, the additional funding for the various capital programs of WRAP was brought to an end.

At the point of the release of funding plans from DEFRA, the chief executive of WRAP responded that the decline in the funding was expected. He told that the funding from the other key funders along with DEFRA would be sufficient to pull together its resource efficiency programs for the next five years. The reduction of WRAP funding for the years following was given as 31.8 million for 2012-13 and further as 30.1 million for the years 2013-14 and 14-15. These figures were subject to change.

However, larger than expected reductions in the WRAP core funding from DEFRA was marked in the last two years. The funding in 2012-13 was £28.8 million, a 17% cut, against the suggested £31.8 million in the five year budget plan.

The funding is further slashed by 11% for the year 2013-14 for an amount of £25.74 million. Furthermore, DEFRA has decided to initiate the WRAP review to ascertain its monetary value. The schedule for the review is not yet revealed, but is expected to start sometime in the first half of the year. WRAP is supposedly updating DEFRA with its regular performance reports of the work undertaken by them along with the monthly and quarterly financial reports and expenditure plans.

The review results are also expected to decide the priority projects of WRAP in the future. Presently, the food waste reduction program and the Courtauld Commitment are the prime focus of the organisation. Although the focus may remain in these two projects, the work undertaken in other areas might be curtailed. WRAP is already trimming away a number of areas under its operation, including the local authority and wood recycling work.

DEFRA’s Stand

The decision for the budget cuts from DEFRA is part of the process of the reduction in government’s own budget deficits by £661 million in a five year period of 2011- 2015. The focus is to reduce the internal and external expenditures to meet the budget targets. DEFRA’s own budget is going to be sliced by £20 million in 2013-14 and by £35 million in 2014-15.

DEFRA’s review of its arm’s length bodies is the part of a wider assessment of all the government funded organisations to ascertain that the outcomes are meeting the predetermined goals. Following the same trail, DEFRA is under the process of reviewing the Environmental Agency. The possibility of the merger of EA with the Natural England, the UK’s nature conservation body, is being examined and discussed.

Response from WRAP

A spokesman from WRAP stated that DEFRA’s decision of the review is perfectly justified as their work is subjected to timely review. The delivery of the work will not be affected by the funding cut from DEFRA.

The chief executive of WRAP, Liz Goodwin responded that despite the added financial pressure the organisation is relatively relaxed through the hit. She also told that they will internally analyse and improve their efficiency to reduce overhead costs, but no job losses are expected at the moment. She assured that the budget cuts will not result into any catastrophe with the inclusion of the additional funds support they receive from other governments. WRAP is also expecting positive reports in the imminent review as a result of their work in the circular economy agenda.

Thus, the focus for the next 12 months would be on the circular economy agenda. Goodwin explained that there have been some excellent developments in the resource and waste management areas in the year 2012 and now the discussion is about a far better topic of circular economy. This discussion will reveal that the waste management and recycling are the main components of the economy.

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