Monday, 3 February 2014

Floods

From the Independent

Britain may have to choose whether it wants to save "town or country" from future flooding because it is too costly to defend both, the chairman of the Environment Agency said.

Lord Smith said "difficult choices" would have to be made over what to protect because "there is no bottomless purse" to pay for defences.

His warning comes as it emerged victims of the flooding are having to pay up to 41p a minute to call a government helpline for advice.

From John Redwood's Diary

The staff costs of the Agency rose by £30m or 8% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of £395.3 million. The Agency employed 12,252 people including  temps and contractor personnel.  Pension contributions cost £56 m , with a loss on the fund recognised that year in the accounts bringing the total pension cost to £197.4 million.  The total cost of pensions was almost as high as the capital works, where they spent £219million during the year.

Within the capital works just £20.3 million was spent on improving or maintaining culverts and channels to ensure free flow of water. That is a mere 1.7% of their total budget, or 3.4% of their staff and pension costs. A further £69.6m was spent on improving embankments.

12 comments:

Bayard said...

Yesterday I saw an excavator with an "Environment Agency" sign on it. It was surrounded by heras fencing and covered in rust. I remembered seeing it in the same place last summer. In front of it was the outflow of a river, choked with pebbles. Behind it was a flood.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, it's a pity you don't have a photo.

The Stigler said...

Mark/B,

Yup - get a photo..

James Higham said...

There'll be nothing done, just responsibility shifted. We have a post at OoL on it.

DBC Reed said...

I cannot understand why the private sector cannot be called in to sort it out: after all it has done such a good job with everything else .When in doubt call in the private sector; privatise flood defences; private sector bureaucracies are so much more efficient than public sector equivalents.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, get with the plot! Landowners like "the government" to sort things out at everybody else's expense. Paying the private sector to do stuff is for The Little People.

Derek said...

He, he. Very good, Mr Reed!

Kj said...

Yes, good point DBC. But for the same savings and keepin´ it public, do something about pensions.

The Stigler said...

DBC,

I cannot understand why the private sector cannot be called in to sort it out: after all it has done such a good job with everything else .When in doubt call in the private sector; privatise flood defences; private sector bureaucracies are so much more efficient than public sector equivalents.

I mostly agree with you. I'm not a fan of government outsourcing except where government taps into an existing market. So, if a government department needs PCs, there's already a market of PC manufacturers.

My post was more about a general thing about how people talk about spending that's often pitifully small (there's always ministers trying to reduce access to justice because of the legal aid bill, which is miniscule).

Lola said...

Re private maintenace. I have some experience of this in the Fens. Long ago, in aprevious life, I was working ona new road scheme for a bypass between Kings Lynn and points west. The whole of that area of fens was looked after by what seemed to me were three men and a dog. It was I think the Black Dyke Internal Drainage Board. These worthy characters keep all the dykes and sluices working with very little in the way of bureaycrats and resoirces - and they worked with the local landowners.
Once the Environment Agency got involved, the number of bureaucrats exploded and the number of men and dogs declined and the whole system was less well run.
In other words it's not privatisation per se that's needed it is the return of 'proper' cvil servants.

Bayard said...

L, As far as I can remember, for the last thirty years and probably before, the public sector has been busy cutting the numbers of people that actually do useful work and putting this out to "contractors", while vastly increasing the ranks of management, to manage these very same contractors. I myself was made redundant in one iteration of this process.
When you say "proper" civil servants, do you mean blue-collar ones?

Bayard said...

Mark, TS, you couldn't photograph the excavator and the flood as there was a road on an embankment in between the two.