In a surprise note to employees from the chief executive and chair of the agency on 10 October, the organisation told staff that the Chancellor's recent announcement of further cuts to departmental budgets would mean around 1,400 job loses.
The funding pressures do not fall equally across the Environment Agency’s activities, so it is unclear which services will suffer most and which jobs are most at risk. However, the scale of the cutbacks make it inevitable that all services will suffer to some degree.
Prospect negotiator Kevin Warden said: “The proposed decimation of Environment Agency jobs will have a detrimental effect on the lives of millions of people in England.
“Cuts of this scale will affect all frontline services. For example, the organisation's flood warning service is staffed out of hours by members in all functions, not just flood risk management, so inevitably the warning service will suffer. The public has grown used to a world leading incident management response from the Agency at times of crisis: this is clearly threatened.”
Prospect's 600 specialist members in the Environment Agency provide diverse services that protect and enhance the quality of life for everybody in England, including:
- providing flood warnings and maintaining flood defences
- protecting the public from risks associated with radioactive waste
- regulating polluting industries and preventing environmental crime
- managing the country's water resources
- ensuring safe bathing water quality
- enhancing our rivers to support angling.
Senior managers will decide which services will be cut and by how much on 14-15 October. Their recommendations will be put to the Agency's Board on 17 October.
“Prospect is committed to fighting these cuts, but is equally committed to working with the Agency to identify and implement further efficiencies to reduce the risk to services and jobs,” said Warden.
“We hope the public will join us in opposing such short-sighted austerity measures when the scale of the increased risks to safety, quality of life and the threat to the environment become apparent.”