Defra has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £536,000.
The requirement has arisen because there is an urgent requirement to proceed with setting up the Office for Environmental Protection in advance of Royal Assent of the Environment Bill.
Under Managing Public Money rules, expenditure to make preparation for the delivery of a new service prior to Royal Assent requires an advance from the Contingencies Fund. The cash advance will pay for essential set up expenditure for IT, corporate services, estates, finance, recruitment and other HR costs that are needed for establishing for the Office of Environmental Protection. The need to spend now in advance of Royal Assent is driven by the necessary timelines associated with recruitment, procurement and set up which are expected to take several months. This will ensure that the Office for Environmental Protection can be brought into operation and begin exercising its statutory functions as soon as practical after Royal Assent of the Environment Bill.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £536,000 for this new service will be sought in an Estimate for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £536,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.
This contingencies fund advance is in addition to the £215,000 notified to Parliament on 21 July 2020 to cover essential spend including public appointments and minimal staff recruitment.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords