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.
Easing of restrictions in England and Scotland
The Prime Minister has announced a further easing of restrictions in England to take place from 17 May 2021. The move to step three of the roadmap will include:
- Up to six people or two households can meet indoors
- Re-opening of indoor hospitality
- Re-opening of hotels, hostels and B&Bs
The First Minister has also announced that most parts of Scotland will move to level 2 from 17 May.
See also the latest easing of restrictions in Wales and Northern Ireland
The Road Haulage Association is reporting increasing concerns over driver shortages as a result of a multitude of issues, including EU nationals returning to Europe, a significant backlog in driver testing and the introduction of new IR35 tax changes. Discussions have been taking place between the food industry and government on what measures could be introduced to alleviate the issue and ensure the food supply chain is not impacted. Measures being discussed include a further short-term relaxation of driver’s hours.
Wider shortages of operational labour are also being reported from across the food chain, in part driven by a significant reduction in the number of EU nationals working in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics the number of EU nationals working in the UK fell 21% between Q4 2019 and Q4 2020.
Worker testing funding
The government will continue to provide free rapid lateral flow tests until 30 June 2021 for employees participating in either workplace or home testing. There is currently no indication as to whether the funding of these tests will continue after 30 June. The government is reviewing requirements for worker testing following step 4 of the roadmap which comes into effect no earlier than 21 June.
Public support for mass testing
According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics there is strong public support for mass testing. 71% of people would be likely to get a test for COVID-19 even if they did not have ant symptoms.
Increase and extension of the plastic bag levy
The government has confirmed that a 10p charge for single-use carrier bags will come into force from 21 May. This will extend to all businesses. The government has provided updated guidance and is encouraging businesses to display posters, images and supporting guidance sheets.
UN Food Systems Summit – Input deadline
As part of the preparations for the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in September, the government is seeking input from the food and consumer goods industry. Submissions can be made up until 12 May.
The government is encouraging small and medium-sized businesses to register to take part in a regional dialogue on 10 June.
This forms part of a national dialogue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders to gain their views on transforming the food system. The output from this national dialogue will feed into a pre-summit meeting in Italy in July.
Northern Ireland forum date change
The first meeting of a new joint Defra – DAERA forum due to take place on 13 May will now take place on 20 May at 9 a.m.
The forum will bring together different parts of the agri-food chain into a single hub of engagement. It will focus on operational details of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Businesses from across the agri-food chain can register to take part here.
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:
- 30 June – The grace period for sending certain Prohibited & Restricted goods (P&Rs) from GB to NI ends.
- 21 August – New model of EHCs is required for POAO exported to the EU, following the end of the transitionary arrangements allowing the use of current EHCs
- 1 October – POAO and all regulated plants and plant products will require pre-notification and health documentation to be imported into the UK.
- 1 October – End of the grace period for supermarkets and their suppliers moving goods into Northern Ireland. The start of a phased introduction of the Export Health Certificates for POAO exported to Northern Ireland from GB.
- 1 January 2022 - Safety and Security Declarations for imports required. Physical checks required at Border Control Posts (BCPs) for POAO and certain animal by-products, and High Risk Food Not Of Animal Origin. Physical SPS checks of high risk plants also to take place at BCPs. Pre-notification requirements and documentary checks required for low risk plants and plant products.
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.
- 1 March 2022 – Physical checks at BCPs for live animals and low risk plants and plant products.
The UK government has issued guidance specifically for food and drink businesses.
Register here for upcoming webinars on trading with the EU.
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
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