Meat (Official Controls Charges) (Scotland) Regulations 2008 to come into effect on 31 March 2008
Wednesday 28 November 2007
The proposed new charges are intended to come into force on 31 March 2008 to coincide with the start of the Meat Hygiene Service's new 2008/09 financial charging period.
All comments and views should be sent to:
Animal Food Chain & Novel Foods Branch
Food Standards Agency Scotland
St Magnus House
25 Guild Street
Aberdeen AB11 6NJ
Tel: 01224 285105
Fax: 01224 285168
Responses are requested by: 18 January 2008
The key proposals are to:
- increase MHS hourly chargeout rates for official controls to the operators of approved meat premises by around 8% (approximately 5% plus inflation)
- increase standard charges for throughput subject to official controls by 8% (approximately 5% plus inflation), except for those rates that need to be increased to the minima required by the EC Official Feed and Food Controls (OFFC) Regulation from 31 December 2007
- increase the rate for adult bovines, which from 31 December 2007 need to be increased by 6.2% to reach the OFFC minimum, by a further 1.8% (i.e. 8% in total)
- retain those rates that need to be increased by more that 8% from 31 December 2007 to reach the OFFC minima (i.e. no further increase is proposed)
The MHS is an Executive Agency of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and these proposals are a key part of their plans to transform the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) to reduce the levels and cost of official controls at approved meat premises and to get closer to recovering the full cost of these controls from industry. This strategy is in line with the decisions made by the FSA Board at its 19 July open meeting. Among other things, the FSA Board agreed that industry should be charged an increasing proportion of the costs of official controls whilst, in parallel, the MHS should work to reduce substantially the overall costs of carrying out those controls by delivering them more efficiently.
These proposals would increase official controls charges to businesses in Scotland by approximately £179,000 in 2008/09. During the next five years the MHS are working to reduce the total cost of delivering official controls across Great Britain by a minimum of 14% (£8 million) to £51million. Actions are in hand to reduce MHS gross costs by £4 million in 2008/09 as a result of a reduction in the number of meat hygiene inspectors.
The proposals are in line with recommendations accepted by the FSA Board at its July open meeting and are intended to come into force on 31 March 2008 to coincide with the start of the new MHS 2008/09 financial charging period.
In addition, the proposed Regulations include that any reference to EC legislation referred to in Schedule 1 is a reference to that legislation as amended from time to time. This is a new provision that has been made possible as a result of an amendment to the European Communities Act . Its benefit would be that the references to EC legislation in the Regulations would not become out of date as soon as amendments to that legislation came into force and it would not be necessary for the proposed Regulations to be amended or replaced to take account of them.
It is not proposed at this stage to change the method of calculating charges. Therefore, food business operators (FBOs) will continue to pay the lower of time-costs or throughput charges. However, the FSA Board signalled at its July open meeting that alternative charging arrangements should be developed for introduction from the start of the 2009/10 financial year. The principle reasons for this are that the current charging arrangements:
- do not in general provide FBOs with an incentive to drive up standards and compliance and to make optimum use of official control resources
- are neither compatible with efficient resource and finance management by the MHS , nor do they in general provide an incentive to improve the efficient deployment of official control resources
- do not allow the available subsidy to be targeted to plants most in need.
The MHS recently wrote to sdtakeholders, including all operators of approved meat businesses in the UK, about this. A proposed new charging arrangement will be developed by the MHS with stakeholder input and will be subject to full public consultation, probably in late summer/early autumn next year.
This consultation has been prepared in accordance with the HM Government Code of Practice on Consultation, which states that a consultation must follow better regulation best practice, including carrying out an Impact Assessment (Regulatory Impact Assessment in Scotland). The assessment is included in the consultation documents.
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