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.
Northern Ireland – Digital Assistance Scheme (DAS) development
The Digital Assistance Scheme (DAS) will be showcased to industry for feedback in the next week. DAS aims to provide a digital system to support the continued movement of agri-food goods and live animals from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
See here for further information about DAS.
UK-Australia free trade agreement update
It has been reported that negotiations for a free trade agreement with Australia are nearing conclusion. Concerns have been raised about the implications for British producers. The plan would see taxes on imports and quotas being phased out over 15 years.
The Scottish government has raised concerns about the impact on Scottish farmers
Employers promoting COVID-19 vaccinations
Leading businesses including Asda and Procter & Gamble UK have come together to encourage their staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible. This includes:
- Flexibility to help staff get the vaccine during work hours
- Promoting positive safety messages and signposting staff to NHS-verified advice on vaccines
See here for further details.
Labour market strengthens
Recently published data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of redundancies in February 2021 was the lowest since Summer 2020. The numbers of young people (16-24 years) not in education, employment or training (NEET) remained stable at around 12% of the total.
See here for further details.
Labour shortages update
The latest employment data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of unfilled vacancies was still rising in March and included 45,000 unfilled foodservice vacancies, compared with just 8,000 in May 2020.
This follows reports of shortages of operational labour from across the food chain, in part driven by a significant reduction in the number of EU nationals working in the UK. Experimental data from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) suggests that the number of EU nationals employed in the UK fell by about 184,000 over 2020, down 7% year on year.
IGD Work Experience Week
With the support of industry volunteers IGD has been supporting young people to develop their employability skills for many years, but with 18–24-year-olds disproportionately affected by the economic impact of COVID-19 this work is more vital than ever.
IGD’s work experience week takes place 24-28 May 2021. The programme gives young people insight into the diverse range of opportunities our industry has to offer and helps participants develop the skills they need through live interactive workshops and hands-on projects.
Further work experience weeks will take place in July and November. See here for further details.
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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