George Eustice – 2022 Statement on the Budget of the Office for Environmental Protection

The statement made by George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in the House of Commons on 31 March 2022.

The Secretary of State is setting out the budget for the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) for the financial year 2022-23 and an indicative budget for five years which will be protected by DEFRA within this spending review period. This will ensure the OEP has sufficient funds to carry out its statutory functions in England and gives greater certainty to the OEP over its long-term finances with which to plan its activities. The Northern Ireland contribution to the OEP’s budget, reflecting the additional cost of the OEP’s functions in Northern Ireland, is subject to ongoing discussion and will be confirmed in due course.

Following DEFRA’s internal assurance of the budget allocation, the OEP will receive:

In 2022-23: a ring-fenced baseline budget of £7,108,583, and additional funding of £4,364,366, totalling £11,472,949

In 2023-24: a ring-fenced baseline budget of £7,250,755

In 2024-25: a ring-fenced baseline budget of £7,395,770

The indicative baseline budget for 2025-26 is £7,543,685 and for 2026-27 is £7,694,559.

The total funding of £11.47 million for the upcoming financial year includes an additional £4.36 million to support the OEP’s establishment costs. The 2022-23 baseline budget of £7.11 million to cover ongoing operational costs and the exercise of the OEP’s statutory functions will increase year on year allowing for inflation, forming the five-year indicative budget.

The OEP’s baseline budget is ring fenced for the duration of the spending review period and the OEP will not be subject to savings. As with the use of any public funds, we expect the OEP to manage its budget with a high standard of probity, declare in-year underspends and return any unspent funds to the Department.

Should the OEP be asked to undertake additional duties which increases the cost of undertaking its functions, the Secretary of State will ensure supplementary funding is available so that the OEP’s funding overall remains sufficient. Further, should the OEP identify additional needs in 2022-23 or future years it will be able to bid for supplementary funds through a bespoke budget allocation process.

DEFRA will also conduct a review within 18 months of the OEP being set up in line with Cabinet Office guidance regarding new arm’s length bodies. This will provide an early assessment of the effectiveness and long-term resource requirements of the body.