Comment on the National Audit Office Report on Defra’s Progress to Date
Commenting on the National Audit Office Report published yesterday, Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association said: “Having been closely involved with Defra over the last year, we have been impressed with how quickly the department has risen to the challenge of expanding its workforce, drafting in new skills and getting on with the task of building new IT systems to cater for a no-deal scenario. However, there is still much work to be done and these preparations will most likely fall short of what is needed by March 2019.”
Mr Allen said that “A troubling detail in the NAO’s report is that Defra’s economists expect an increase of between 150% and 300% in the volume of Export Health Certificates that will need to be processed. This will need a commensurate increase in the number of veterinarians to handle the work.
“The extra recruitment necessary should have started in April 2018 but the department will now be forced to launch an emergency recruitment campaign (possibly in October) to bring on board more vets. It will be unlikely that they will find enough and so will have to plug the gaps with non-veterinarians to take on certain administrative tasks.’’
Nick Allen stressed that: “BMPA, whilst supportive of Defra’s considerable efforts, is frustrated that such delays are now placing in jeopardy so much of the British meat industry’s export potential”.
“The disruption that we could be facing will have drastic consequences for meat companies and contingency plans need to be prioritised if this industry is to avoid being seriously damaged by the fallout from a no-deal Brexit”