The Port Health and Public Protection Director to be heard.
The Committee received the verbal update of the Port Health and Public Protection Director on the UK's impact of leaving the EU (Brexit) on Port Health & Public Protection.
The Committee was informed that things are moving on at pace since the verbal update at the last sitting of the Committee. The UK Government has published a Border Operating Model that outlines how controls will be phased in at the border from January 2021.
The model contains information on a wide variety of border controls, but the ones relevant to this Committee include:
· From January 2021 – full checks on live animals, organic checks, Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing checks. In addition, goods transiting through the EU to the UK will need to be checked. The transits are high-risk food and feed from the rest of the world that travel via the EU but are not checked by the EU. The Department will also need to check manifests to gain a better understanding of imports through the ports.
· From April 2021, the City of London will need to ensure that it is carrying out 100% documentary checks of high-risk food and feed which enters the UK through the City of London’s ports. The latest projections from the UK Government indicate that this could double the workload for the Port Health Service.
· From July 2021, a physical, identification, and sampling checks will be required on 1% of high-risk EU food and feed imports
The Committee was informed that the City of London is in close liaison with the Government bodies, such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Food Standards Agency, as some points in the Border Operating Model require further clarification. This includes details of how long the 1% checking regime will last as it is out of step with that applied to the rest of the world imports, and any safeguarding measures for Avian and Swine Flu that to be carried on appropriate products early next year. This is an addition to the checks that the City of London continues to make on high-risk food and feed from the rest of the world.
The Committee was
reminded that the Department had had submitted a bid for
£474k to the Food Standard Agency under its EU Transition
Fund to support the City of London’s current preparations,
increasing staffing numbers based on the information at the
time. Although, the City of London was awarded only
£150K. However, the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs, released details of a Port Health Authority
Transition Readiness Fund and
the following discussions with
the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs regarding
their revised predictions the City of London submitted a bid to
support its current preparations and increase its workforce by 22
officers; including 3 Port Health Officers, 3 Official
Veterinarians, 8 Port Health Technical Officers and 8 Support
Assistants. A funding pot of £714K has been made
available until 31 March 21. There is also a commitment that
the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will
underwrite the cost of recruitment until 31 March 22 based on their
The City of London is currently finalising the arrangements with the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs and it is in discussions with HR and Finance to expedite the recruitment process. The Department is hopeful that it can fill the post quickly using apprentices and graduates.
The Committee was further advised that the Department is working closely with the various port operators on the River Thames to ensure they are ready for next year.
The Committee was made aware of the Members Briefing on Brexit, focussed on the Port Health Service and Heathrow Animal Reception Centre. Members were informed that the briefing would place on Monday 14 December, 15:30-16:30.
A Member asked if the Port Health and Public Protection Director can confirm that there are no financial implications on the Port Health Services from the Target Operating Model and the 12% reduction from 2021. The Port Health and Public Protection Director responded that the Port Health function is based on full costs recovery. The staff will be taken on a flexible base, and the Department does not anticipate any legacy impacts.
The Deputy Chairman asked whether London Ports are seeing additional traffic being diverted from Felixstowe as the vessel are not be able to land their containers. The Port Health and Public Protection Director responded that the City of London has noted that vessels move around from Felixstowe to City of London Gateway Ports, which is well served. The Committee was advised the City of London has very little influence or control around the vessels' movements and where they go; however, the City of London has been dealing well with diversions.
This was followed by another Member who asked whether there will be a longer term impact as a result of the goods that are coming from the EU being subject to 1% check, as opposed to a higher check on goods that are coming directly from elsewhere. The Port Health and Public Protection Director responded that the City of London has been in contact with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to clarify how long the 1% checks will be in place for, as increase will impact on the resource required to deliver the service.
The Chairman reminded the Committee of the Members Briefing on Brexit. He reassured the Committee that further updates would be provided to the Committee on the update on the impact of the UK leaving the EU (Brexit) on Port Health & Public Protection at the Committee’s future meeting.
RESOLVED, that – Members noted the verbal update.