IGD - Economics bulletin 16 February

Date : 16 February 2021

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

COVID-19 community testing for workers

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees in England are encouraged to contact their local authority to explore the possibility of using community testing facilities for workers that cannot work from home.

Three in four local authorities are now offering community testing, and all local authorities are expected to do so by the start of March. Businesses can use a new postcode checker to find out if community testing is offered by their local authority.

COVID-19 home testing for workers

The government is expected to introduce home testing in the next few weeks. It will be made available for employees of businesses where it is not practically possible to establish testing facilities and for those who do not have a regular place of work.

COVID-19 workplace testing

Defra continues to urge food businesses to take up the offer of government funded lateral flow technology testing (LFT/LFD) to test asymptomatic workers for businesses with 50 or more employees in England. Government funding for these tests is currently due to expire after 31 March 2021. Discussions are ongoing about the funding of the tests after this date.

Those interested in taking part can register here.

The First Minister of Scotland recently announced plans for the introduction of workforce testing within the food processing and distribution sectors.

Northern Ireland – digital assistance scheme

The government has completed the initial scoping exercise for designing a new Digital Assistance Scheme to support the certification process for moving goods from Great Britain to Norther Ireland. Defra is expected to reach out later this week to ask for business to partner with them and the technology providers to design and test the system.

Northern Ireland Protocol – EU-UK discussions

Businesses are advised to continue to prepare for the end of the grace period on 1 April (see key dates section for more details). Further talks are expected between the Government and the European Commission relating to the working of the Northern Ireland Protocol and a potential extension of the grace period.

Key dates for UK-EU transition and support for businesses

Businesses trading with the EU should be prepared for the introduction of further border controls on the following dates:

  • 22 February – the introduction of consignment level certification for prohibited and restricted fresh meat, minced meat and meat preparations (P&Rs) exported to Northern Ireland
  • 1 April – End of the grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers moving goods into Northern Ireland. All products of animal origin (POAO) exported to Northern Ireland will require Export Health Certificates.
  • 1 April – Products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation to be imported into the UK. There may also by physical checks, conducted at the final destination.
  • 30 June – The grace period for sending certain P&R goods from GB to NI ends.
  • 1 July – Products of animal origin and all regulated plants and plant products will be subject to physical checks at Border Control Posts in the UK. The regime of border checks will become more rigorous.
    Complete customs declarations for imports to the UK will be required. Importers may no longer defer making declarations. Tariffs will become payable at the moment of import.

The government is encouraging businesses to reach out to all their European suppliers to ensure they are prepared for import requirements from 1 April.

The UK government has issued guidance specifically for food and drink businesses.

Register here for upcoming webinars on trading with the EU.

Register here for Defra webinars on Importing Products of Animal Origin (POAO) from the European Union into Great Britain.

IGD has also provided additional support to help businesses with EU Exit. Businesses may also wish to refer to the EU EXIT Foodhub, an FAQ website for food and drink businesses

More economic news and analysis