FSA Consultation Letter, 23 June 2006
The draft Regulations will implement in England the provisions of European Community Regulation 882/2004 on Official Feed and Food Controls (OFFC) relating to the charging for meat hygiene official controls at approved meat establishments. Responses are requested by: 15 September 2006
For the most part, the proposed regulations will continue the current charging arrangements for these official controls, which are carried out by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS). The Regulations will not impose additional costs or burdens on industry. Consultations are taking place in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland on proposals to introduce similar legislation in those countries.
From 1 January 2007 , the EC OFFC Regulation will come into force in all EC Member States and form the legal basis for charges for official controls. It continues to require Member States to charge for meat hygiene official controls and sets out the framework for doing so. When it comes into force the Meat (Official Controls Charges) ( England ) Regulations 2005, which form the current national legal basis for meat hygiene charges in England , will cease to have effect. This is because the EC Charging Directive on which they are based (Directive 85/73/EEC, as amended) will be superseded by the EC OFFC Regulation. In view of this, new national legislation is needed to continue the current meat hygiene charging arrangements and to implement the relevant provisions of the EC OFFC Regulation.
Effect of the Regulations
The proposed new Regulations will, with one exception, maintain the current system of charging for meat hygiene official controls. The exception is the need to abolish the current minimum charge that is currently required under the EC Charging Directive.
Abolition of the minimum charge
This provision currently requires that charges must be no lower than 45% of the relevant throughput charge, i.e. the amount that would be payable if charged at standard Community throughput rates. In the UK , this means that where time cost charges are payable, because they are less than the throughput charge, the actual charge must be no lower than 45% of that throughput charge. The EC OFFC Regulation provides that, with effect from 1 January 2007 , charges collected for official controls shall not be higher than the costs borne by the control authority and it is therefore necessary to abolish the minimum charge rule. This will mean that businesses that are currently paying charges at the 45% minimum rate are likely to pay a lower charge.
Although the draft Regulations maintain the current system of charging and have the same effect as the current Regulations (except for the abolition of the 45% rule), the section on time cost calculation does not provide as much information. Instead, it makes reference to the relevant section of the EC OFFC Regulation that covers the same issues. This change in format is necessary because the EC requirements are now contained in a Regulation rather than a Directive. A Guide will be issued later to set out how the Regulations will be applied.
You may notice that the definition of 'financial period' in paragraph 2(3) of Schedule 2 of the draft Regulation is not the same as the current one. This is simply to ensure that the financial periods during the 2006/07 financial year when the 45% rule will apply (i.e. 27/03/06 to 31/12/06 ) and will not apply (i.e. 01/01/07 to 25/03/07 ) can be treated separately.
Possible further changes to official control charges beyond 1 January 2007
A wider review of the charging arrangements for official controls at approved meat establishments that is currently underway. Details of this review are set out in a letter of 24 May to members of the FSA's Meat Hygiene Policy Forum, which includes representatives of the meat industry and consumer and enforcement stakeholders. These initial proposals, including the phasing in of charges for controls on the removal of Specified Risk Material are set out at the link below.
Any changes that are proposed as a result of this review will be introduced via new legislation (i.e. in addition to the draft Regulations covered by this consultation) and will be subject to a further period of full public consultation.
The following documents are available on the FSA website:
See also UK News Item 25 May 2006 : MEAT HYGIENE - Proposal to phase in charges for controls on the removal of specified risk material (SRM)