UK floods 2014: Environment Agency job cuts 'on hold'

The UK floods are bad news for those in affected areas but they're good news for Environment Agency workers who were facing redundancy as the job cuts have been put on hold for now.

The quango is still intending to cut its workforce by 1,550 but those cuts will have to wait, and discussions with the staff members who may be affected has also been delayed until the flooding subsides. Labour has muddied the waters by saying that 550 flood specialists will definitely go as part of the cuts, but the Agency has countered by saying that nothing has been confirmed as yet.

After all the bad weather and Britain’s poor defences against it, the Environment Agency has come under a lot of pressure. Its policy on river dredging in Somerset, one of the country’s worst hit areas, has been criticised. But its chairman Lord Smith has praised his staff’s dedication and professionalism.

Toby Willison, the Environment Agency’s programme director, said: “We will not be entering a formal consultation with staff until the current flooding has subsided. Once we move out of incident response mode, we will refocus our efforts to continue to bring Environment Agency costs in line with our budget from government for 2014-15.”

When the prime minister David Cameron was asked about the job cuts ahead of the Agency’s announcement he said: “Those aren't plans that are going to be put in place," he said. "Of course every organisation has to make sure it is efficient - but nothing will be done at the Environment Agency that will hamper our flood relief effort.”

The Agency’s annual budget is being cut by government so a reduction from its 11,250 staff members to 9,700 has to happen one way or another.

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