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Huge Increase In Overtime At The Environment Agency As More Floods And Cuts Loom

The organisation is under pressure.

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Luke Macgregor / Reuters

The organisation responsible for Britain's flood defences has seen overtime pay for staff nearly double since 2010, amid job cuts and increasingly severe flood emergencies.

The Environment Agency was criticised by politicians for its lacklustre response to flooding earlier this year. The pressure comes as researchers warn that climate change could make severe flooding in the UK more likely in the future.

The agency was recently forced to pause its programme of job losses, but has said it would ultimately have to push ahead with long-term plans to cut around 1,500 staff because of funding cuts by central government.

The government has denied that its cuts to the agency's budget would damage the effectiveness of Britain's flood defences, despite claims by Labour that around 550 jobs in flood defences could be at risk in the shake-up.

Overtime pay at the agency was up 84% in 2012 compared to 2010, and was still up 52% against the same benchmark in 2013.

Overtime pay at the Environment Agency 2010-2013.

The Environment Agency confirmed that increasingly severe weather over the last two years was to blame for the rise, with staff working throughout the night to help the victims of floods.

"The increase in overtime payments for the last two years corresponds to the Environment Agency's response to extended periods of flooding in 2012 and the recent severe flood events from December 2013 to February 2014," a statement from the Agency said.

"During these periods of incident response, staff were required to work overtime and shifts were established to cover 24-hour working."

Figures obtained by BuzzFeed show the organisation was spending around £5m on overtime pay in 2010/11 and 2011/12, but that the figure had risen to £10m by 2012/13, remaining unusually high in 2013/14 at £8.3m.