FSA budget cuts: What impact could they have on your business?

No sector has been left unaffected by the government’s ruthless belt tightening, and the effects of such savage cuts are being felt across a number of sectors — including food safety and hygiene. Both the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local authorities have seen their monetary resources slashed in recent budgets, raising questions about the on-going upkeep and maintenance of hygiene safety standards.

As of November 2015, after Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn spending review, the FSA’s annual budget is frozen at £85.4M until 2020. While this may sound a substantial sum, the figure represents a £6M (7%) cut in the agency’s total spending budget — something which will force the FSA to rethink its expenditure and introduce internal cuts to key services, potentially with widespread consequences to the UK’s food safety.

On top of cuts at the FSA, the government has also swung its axe at other local authorities and services, particularly the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). These establishments help to enforce the FSA’s food regulations, so the budget cuts could easily impact how well they’re able to sustain current food and hygiene standards.

A spokesperson for the FSA told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the cuts to its budget was proving ‘challenging’, and that the agency would need to scale back on its frontline-delivery and administration over the next four years.

As the food standards regulator, the FSA chooses which services to spend its annual budget on. These include meat control, support to local authorities, intelligence on the global food chain, nutrition and campylobacter research. Faced with new cuts to its budget, the FSA will scale back spending on the majority of these services — with potentially harmful consequences.

One area in which the FSA cannot readily afford spending cuts is in providing monetary support to local authorities, who are charged with upholding food safety standards in their constituency. A cut to funding in this area could see a drop in food safety standards, with councils unable to cope with the demands of implementing the FSA’s legislation. This is worrying for both food retailers and consumers, as it could trigger a rise in the number of food and hygiene infringements in areas struggling to cope with the new financial plan.

By collaborating more closely to streamline their processes, the FSA and local authorities can still enforce a manageable level of food safety legislation — no matter how strict their monetary restraints may be. Tough decisions will need to be made in order to maintain current food hygiene standards, but this is something we’re confident the FSA and local authorities will be able to grasp.

If you’re the owner of a food establishment and are concerned about what impact the FSA’s budget cuts could have on your business, feel free to call the Shieldyourself team for impartial help and advice. Our team of experienced food safety specialists are equipped to answer any and all queries you might have about food safety practices, and are well placed to help your business remain firmly within the law.

To find out more about what we can offer you, or for a no obligation quote for any of our food safety compliance services, visit the Shieldyourself homepage or call us on 020 3797 2346.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email sales@shieldsafety.co.uk.

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Mark Flanagan

Blogs, Food Safety, Health & Safety

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