WESTMINSTER Given the the giveaways

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the budget, cynics may suspect a General Election in the offering. With tax receipts up, borrowing down and growth rates revised. Cautious Phil seized the opportunity to spread the cash bringing forward an increase in personal allowances to £12.5k and raising the higher rate threshold to 50k that leaves more money in pockets and purses to spend. n

high street regeneration over three years and government funding increasing to 95% for apprenticeships together with the tax cuts gave most sat around the table a reason to smile. But tax on packaging,

including HD, Vac bags and trays with increases of over 5% in minimum and National Living Wage rates gave less reason. And although popular a ‘digital’ tax could prove two edged and must be thought through as more micro businesses continue moving to ‘online’ selling. Change of use prompting

Philip Hammond APPSSG At a meeting of the All

Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group (APPSSG) chaired by Ruth George MP in Portcullis House, Westminster the following day. National Craſt Butchers (NCB) with the Association for Convenience Stores (ACS), British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) and others representing High Street independents discussed the detail.

planners to replace commercial and retail premises with residential is a great idea. Making town centres busier and occupied not only spurs the 24-hour economy, but reduces graffiti, vagrancy and street crime. However improving town centres is all very well but what about access? And improving parking and public transport, so that people can reach them. And what about villages and secondary parades? What are they getting? Half glass full, always being

better than half glass empty. Like any budget, although not perfect this one is probably better than most and certainly a step in the right direction! n

FSA Stark contrast to those

attending the Food Standards Agency’s 2018 parliamentary reception across the road in the House of Commons Members Dining room last month. With an incident with a

Ruth George A third off business rates

for two years for those with rateable values between £12k to £51k. £675m for

Pret A Manger sandwich and another with an Indian takeaway in the news. You will expect FSA Chair Heather Hancock to mention the 14 deaths amongst youngsters in the past four years as a result of allergic reactions. And in doing so, announcing a review into allergen labelling that will inevitably lead to tightening regulation. Especially as days earlier, when meeting the parents of the latest victim, Secretary of State Michael Gove


promised action and legislation by the summer. In her attempt to restore

spirits and not wanting to let anybody down within a hundred-mile radius. Using the ‘B’ word, Ms Hancock promised that regulation on the 30th March will be the same as that in place on the 29th of March and that the FSA approach will remain transparent, proportionate and evidenced based. All well and good, until

Minister for Public Health Stephen Brine MP following Ms Hancock sprang to his feet. In praising her and the agency’s work the Minister raised eyebrows repeating the DEFRA mantra that post Brexit Britain will lead the field and secure trade deals by enhancing and increasing standards with a reputation for the highest in the world. n

BREXIT Still in Westminster, but down

the road and a little closer to Victoria. At the QE2 Conference Centre and Food Brexit 2018, the eminent economist Sean Rickard will have shot this one down.

industry where 80% of exports go to China. Rickard says to compete on a global stage, standards must be embraced not enhanced. And only where there’s collaboration and trust with rewards fairly distributed throughout an integrated vertical supply chain, will efficiency and profitability be achieved and lead to the UK being a dominant player in the global market. Compered by freelance

broadcaster, journalist and BBC 1 Countryfile presenter Tom Heap. Tere was a lot of talk and some crystal ball gazing about tariffs and borders as well as what ifs about getting or not getting a deal and working to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. When it came to meat,

‘chlorinated’ chicken and ‘hormone’ beef inevitably came up. Some advocating that in terms of food safety to make Brexit work, jettisoning an EU ‘precautionary’ preventative philosophy and adopting an evidenced based proportionate remedial approach could work. For farmers, manufacturers

Sean Rickard Mr Rickard’s view is that

you only need to go back a generation or so to when pig farmers were told that ‘superior’ welfare and ratcheting up regulation would increase demand causing the world to beat a path to our door and make British Pork profitable. It never happened, ‘gold

plating’ increased costs, reduced profitability, lead to half of all pig farmers going out of business! Citing the Dutch dairy

and particularly those in Foodservice where 30% of labour is non-UK national there is a view that Brexit has accelerated rather than created labour shortages. Following years of younger better educated migrants coming and going and accepting that all jobs have an element of skill. Compromises with greater emphasis on training must in future be made to accommodate older, less educated and less skilled migrant workers. Whereas, with 83% of

fruit and vegetables and huge amounts of chilled perishable food coming across the Channel. Disruption at ports are inevitably of paramount concern to retailers and the wholesalers that serve them. Without frictionless passage and a ‘ticking clock’ on use by dates, values are eroded and can be wiped out as a ‘just in time’ food security policy becomes ‘just too late’! n

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