Regulatory services ‘under pressure’ from EU transition

The LGA has warned that key local services on the frontline of the COVID-19 response face additional pressure as a result of the end of EU transition arrangements.

The EU and UK Government agreed a new post-Brexit trade deal last month, which was ratified by Parliament in an emergency sitting on 30 December.

The deal, which ensures there will be no tariffs or quotas on EU/UK trade in goods, includes a new agreement on fisheries, and makes state-aid and procurement UK domestic policies.

There is an agreement to join some future EU funding programmes (for example, the Horizon research programme) and to leave others (such as the Erasmus education scheme).

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chair of the LGA’s EU Exit Taskforce, said: “This new deal poses a number of opportunities and challenges for local councils. 

“The end of the EU transition period and the start of the new trade arrangements will take place among multiple pressures on councils over the winter months. 

“Our support for local communities against COVID-19 and our statutory services are a priority, and we have stated to government that the capacity to undertake additional new work during this unprecedented period is severely limited.”

He added: “Most of the immediate responsibilities from the ending of the EU transition period will fall on our regulatory services as a result of some new checks on goods at ports and the support needed for businesses. 

“These members of staff are at the frontline of our work in the pandemic and are also having to deliver important statutory services such as food hygiene and trading standards. 

“Even with more funding made available and the support of the new Environmental Health Officer register, councils may find it hard to recruit for these positions in such a short space of time due to a national shortage of qualified staff.”

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