Monday, December 19, 2016

Is Defra ready for Brexit?

It has been estimated that around a quarter of EU derived regulations fall within the ambit of Defra. Is Defra ready for Brexit? No, although the more important question is whether it will be ready by 2019.

The Institute for Government has undertaken a very interesting study of Whitehall's preparedness for Brexit which is quite positive about the Department for Exiting the European Union. Defra is one of five departmental case studies: Institute for Government

What is particularly worrying in Defra's case, given the range and complexity of the issues involved, are the cuts in staff and budget that have taken place. Defra's budget is 17 per cent smaller than it was in 2010 and will be about 35 per cent smaller by March 2019. Moreover, staff have already been cut by 35 per cent.

If all the depleted staff had to do was to deal with Brexit, it might be feasible. Decisions about which regulations to keep and which to change can be taken after Brexit. However, staff also have to do their 'business as usual' work and there is no shortage of challenges, e.g., bovine TB, not to mention the question of relations with the devolved administrations.

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