£50m Deficit For Natural Resources Wales

22 Mar

I’ve posted recently about the promotion of Alun Davies to Minister of Natural Resources & Food but then been queried as to what on earth the government classed as natural resources. So hope the following helps:

In April, Natural Resources Wales takes over following a merger of three environment bodies. However the new environment organisation, set up by the Welsh Government is facing a £50m pension deficit.

The merger was undertaken aiming aimed at saving £158m over ten years. The Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency and the Forestry Commission are being merged to form a single organisation Natural Resources Wales. Deputy Minister Alun Davies has recently been promoted to Minister of Natural Resources & Food so this is now all down to him. Although the IT system designed to make it operate is not ready and the pension debt is larger than first thought.

The business case for the merger allocated £19m to cover the pension debt of amalgamating staff into a single organisation, but the Welsh Government has told BBC Wales it could cost around £50m. Someone in government has a problem doing his sums methinks!

Although there are seemingly a few other options available the government is asked to approve the £50m choice as the “only option that has a degree of certainty” of being achievable by 1 April when the new organisation will be formed.

There are further problems with the amount of deficit in the Environment Agency pension schemes still unresolved.

Jon Owen Jones, chairman of Forestry Commission Wales said there were “several problems”. He said: “They’ve got an IT system they can’t get to work as quickly as they like; they’ve got a IT system that’s going to cost more than they anticipated; they’ve got a pension system that’s going to cost more than they’ve anticipated and, they’ve got services they’re going to buy in from England that are going to cost more than they’ve anticipated.”

Emyr Roberts, chief executive of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) concedes the IT system is unlikely to work properly for a year or two.

I’m sure quite a few of you will find this of interest and no, and no I’m not getting on my soap-box yet again about value-for-money, there really is no point is there? But I was very concerned to be told that these three ‘quangos’ totalled 2,000 in staff numbers. Two thousand staff, I find that so hard to believe, what do 2,000 people do? I hope my source was wrong on that staff figure, but I doubt it.



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