"SENIOR executives at the Environment Agency face new controversy after it emerged last night that they received five-figure “performance bonuses” shortly before the recent floods hit Britain
Baroness Young, the quango’s chief executive, got a bonus of about £24,000 on top of her £163,000 salary. A further eight executives, including the director of water management, shared in the bonus handout last month. The average paid to each executive was equivalent to 10% of their salaries, although Young received 15%.
Details of the bonuses were to be revealed in the agency’s annual report, which was expected to be released last week but publication has been delayed due to the floods
The disclosure of the bonuses will add to anger over the crisis. Professor Dieter Helm, a flood expert at Oxford University, said: “The management of flood defences in recent years has been a sorry tale of budget cuts, failure to act on planning policies and inadequate precautionary measures. At the centre lies the Environment Agency.”
Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats’ environment spokesman, said: “I very much hope they are not trying to sneak through large bonuses at a time when they would be very much in the firing line over some of the work that was not done in the run-up to the floods.
“It is rather worrying the Environment Agency board signed off the accounts in perfectly good time to present them to parliament before the recess on Thursday, yet there seems to have been an unaccountable delay.” (Well there's a surprise)
The bonuses are based on performance targets. On July 11 a board meeting of the agency, which also has responsibility for fighting pollution and protecting wildlife, was told it had met 42 key targets and had missed only three of its objectives – including the failure to “secure funding”. This had allowed the executives to get their bonuses in June. (Surely if they miss the most important target - getting the cash - then that is a complete failure?)
Most of the targets set for the agency are unconnected to floods or environmental emergencies. For example, executives had to put in place plans to tackle the decline in eels and “increase focus on a performance management culture through developing our scorecard”. (Pity nobody was managing their performance!)
If it looks like a load of B*llox, feels like a load of B*llox, then it is a load of B*llox!