FSA Consultation, 15 September 2006
We are seeking your comments on the draft Meat (Official Controls Charges) (England) Regulations 2007 to come into effect on 26 March 2007. Responses are requested by: 8 December 2006
The Regulations would enable the current charging arrangements for meat hygiene official controls carried out by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) in England to continue, and would increase standard throughput charging rates from 26 March 2007.
Consultations are taking place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on proposals to introduce similar legislation in those countries.
The current system of meat hygiene charging was introduced in 2001, to support smaller slaughterhouses and cutting plants, by providing for official control charges to be the lower of time costs and the charge calculated from standard EC rates.
However, the level of this support has grown over the last five years. This is largely because time cost charges have been increased, to cover inflation and to move closer to full cost recovery, but standard charging rates have not been increased since their introduction.
This has resulted in an increasing difference between time cost and throughput charging rates, which has caused an increasing number of businesses to move to throughput based charges.
Under EC law, throughput rates must remain fixed until the end of this year, but from 1 January 2007 it becomes possible to increase them under the provisions of the EU Regulation on Official Feed and Food Controls (OFFC).
We are proposing to increase the current throughput charges by 3.5% from 26 March 2007 to coincide with the start of the MHS’s 2007/08 financial period. The increase, which would preserve the charges at approximately their present value in real terms, would affect all businesses that are charged for meat hygiene official controls in respect of their throughput of animals or meat.
The Regulations propose revised meat hygiene throughput rates per type of animal and per tonne of meat. They have been calculated by increasing the rates that are specified currently to provide a 3.5% (rounded) increase to throughput charges.
Due to a change in the applicable Euro/sterling conversion rate that will take effect from 1 January 2007, the current charges will reduce by approximately 1.3% from 1 January 2007. These reduced charges will apply until 25 March 2007, after which the charges proposed in the Regulations attached below would come into effect. The current and proposed rates, set out with their sterling equivalents, are also attached below.
We are also proposing to make a minor adjustment to the Regulations to reflect the current charging practices more exactly.
This change, which would not impose a new burden on businesses, is to amend Schedule 2, paragraph 13 of the draft Regulations, to ensure that the hourly rates for inspectors may continue to be less than their full costs and may continue to be gradually increased towards full cost recovery.
The background to this is that hourly rates are currently some 20 - 30% below their full costs and have been increased in recent years by 2% above MHS cost inflation to increase the rates towards full costs.
The MHS will consult on proposed 2007/08 time costs rates in early 2007 in the usual way.
Some definitions of Community legislation have been added to the list at Schedule 1 of the draft regulations using their draft titles, which will be amended in the final regulations. These changes will impose no new costs on businesses.
Possible changes to charging arrangements from 2008
We are considering possible further changes to official control charges, in the light of responses from representative organisations to initial proposals that were set out in a letter dated 24 May 2006. We are very grateful for the responses to this preliminary consultation and will take them into account when making further proposals.
See also the following documents