FSA Consultation Letter, 31 July 2006
The FSA are seeking views and comments on proposals to improve the monitoring system used by Local Authorities (LAs) to report on feed and food law enforcement activities to the FSA. This is the second consultation, following the one held in March to May 2005. Responses are requested by 20 October 2006
The key proposals are:
These proposals cover food law enforcement. It is intended to develop similar proposals for animal feed law, to be part of the new monitoring system and matrix, but these are not yet complete.
Responses are required by Friday 20 October 2006 . When responding, please state whether you are responding as a private individual or on behalf of an organisation/company (with a brief summary of the people it represents).
These proposals have been revised and developed in the light of:
Although the Hampton review applies only to England , the Agency wishes to use its recommendations to develop a new approach to food law enforcement for all of the UK .
Under the Food Standards Act 1999, the Agency is required to monitor the performance of enforcement authorities. This is for both national and European Union purposes. The review of the current monitoring system was begun in 2005, and involves two working groups with colleagues from LAs and from LACORS (the Performance Strategy Group and the Monitoring System User Group). The Agency has already made some interim changes, in 2004, by moving to annual data returns, based on the financial year, and by requiring Heads of Service to validate the data.
The Food Standards Agency's Strategic Plan 2005-10 sets a target to:
‘…change the way we report on local authority enforcement activity by 2006 to recognise their important educational and advisory roles in helping local businesses to deliver higher standards of food safety, and work with local authorities to improve the accuracy, timeliness and relevance of local authority performance data'.
The Agency is also proposing a matrix for the overall assessment of the delivery of food law enforcement by each LA.
Effects on stakeholders
The effects of the proposed changes will fall on LAs themselves, and should simplify and lighten their administrative burden. There should be scope for some small cost savings to them in the longterm. There may be some start-up and training costs, within the total costs of introducing the new monitoring system being developed by the overall review. Costings are discussed in the detailed Annex A, and further advice is sought. Some possible projected figures are included in the Agency's Simplification Plan.
All known software suppliers for LAs have been consulted about the proposed changes, to ensure that their systems can be readily adapted if they are agreed. Feedback has suggested that this will not be a problem. However, as part of this consultation, we are separately asking all the IT software companies for their comments relating to the minimum level of data definition needed by November 2006, to enable them to design, test and deliver revised applications to LA customers by May 2007.
A small number of LAs operate in-house IT software systems; the Agency is already discussing how to help them to adapt to the new proposals.
The second consultation consists of several parts. We would specifically welcome your views on the questions in Annex A. The papers are:
Annex A: a consultation paper setting out the latest proposals on how interventions would be reported, the content of the matrix for performance assessment, the proposed data delivery system and data requirement, the implications for LAs, and the proposed timings
Annex B: an illustrative list of possible interventions
Annex C: an example of a draft data requirement for an individual premises for a financial year
Annex D: an example of the way in which an LA's data will be summarised and presented for validation
Annex E: how the proposed matrix scoring system would work
Annex F: details of the proposed data delivery system, and data requirement
Annex G: the proposed data requirement for imported food
Annex H: on background points, and points for further consideration
Annex I: some detailed questions on LAs' IT provisions
Annex J: a paper for information, summarising the responses to the first consultation
The matrix will be expanded to include a data requirement for feed law enforcement in Great Britain . This will substantially mirror that for food. Details of future EU requirements are not yet known. However, it seems likely that there will be a requirement to supply more detailed information about the analysis carried out on feed samples. But it is anticipated that the matrix will not require the same level of detail on feed samples as that which is currently contained in the 'Harmonised' document completed by local authorities enforcing animal feed law. This new animal feed matrix will be distributed for comment separately to those local authorities that have animal feed law enforcement responsibility.
What happens next?
Your responses to this second consultation will be considered at the end of October. The Performance Strategy Group and the Monitoring System User Group will both be involved in agreeing the way forward on monitoring.
It is our intention to finalise the content of the monitoring system at that point. Further work will then focus on the detailed data definitions and on the new delivery system, the work of the IT software suppliers to develop revised software products for their LA clients, and the Agency's plans for training and support for LA colleagues.
The target is to have new IT software applications available to LAs for May 2007. The year 2007-08 will then be treated as a transitional year, with training in the new system being provided for all LAs between May and October, and all LAs asked to implement the new system from November 2007.
The following are available on the FSA web site: