The Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, will get rid of one in eight of her civil servants in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), reigniting criticism that the Government is neglecting the fight against climate change.
Stephen Lovegrove, the permanent secretary at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), has told MPs that 200 staff will leave through a “voluntary exit scheme”. At 1,600 staff, DECC is already one of Whitehall’s smallest departments, and the redundancies have sparked accusations that the Government will struggle to develop effective green energy policy.
In July, Ms Rudd cut renewable energy subsidies, which have led to job losses in the solar industry. A letter leaked last week revealed she has also warned cabinet colleagues that the UK will be nearly 25 per cent short of its clean energy target for 2020.
The jobs cull also comes ahead of this month’s United Nations climate change conference in Paris, which has been billed as one of the most important summits on tackling carbon emissions in history.
Chancellor George Osborne has asked all but a handful of protected departments to make spending cuts of up to 40 per cent so he can meet his pledge to balance the country’s books by the end of this parliament.
DECC is the first department to spell out the job losses that will occur as a result. The wider cuts across Whitehall will be revealed in the CSR, announced alongside the Autumn Statement on 25 November. The department was also one of the first four to agree its CSR settlement with the Chancellor. The others were Local Government and Communities, the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury itself.
Mr Lovegrove told the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee: “Clearly, in today’s environment we are very conscious of the need to make a contribution to general deficit reductions, so we will be scaling back the number of people in the department. We currently have 1,600 people in the department and we have a voluntary exit scheme going on at the moment, which is designed to remove about 200 heads from the department.”