Food policy in limbo as hung parliament reigns

- Last updated on GMT

The hung parliament has raised a large question mark over some key areas of food policy, with uncertainty surrounding everything from the future of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to the implementation of Labour’s 2030 strategy, according to law firm Eversheds.

Eversheds food sector head Parmjit Singh said: “The main parties all have differing views as to what role the FSA would fulfil. For example, Labour intended to allow it to continue in its role as architect of diet and nutrition policy and extend its remit to include sustainability.

“However, the Conservatives plan to strip it of diet and nutrition strategy and revert it to a pure food safety authority reporting to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). This issue will need to be resolved as soon as possible so the remit of the FSA is clear for all in the food sector.”

He added: “The hung parliament also raises questions over the future of Labour’s Food 2030 report. If the UK does end up with a Conservative government, the strategies outlined in Food 2030 will be reconsidered and this will inevitably delay the implementation of a coherent food policy that the UK food industry needs.”

As for VAT on food, he said: “One easy option ​[to tackle the public deficit] is to put VAT on food. However this would be considered a tax on the poorer members of society where food is a bigger proportion of spend.

“Until the hung parliament issue is resolved, this will no doubt go on the back burner. However the question for the new government is will it be prepared to undertake such an unpopular measure?”

Transport

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) also called on politicians to avoid using transport as a "political football"​ as they tried to negotiate a political agreement in the coming days and weeks.

FTA policy and communications chief James Hookham said:“Transport is a key part of the recovery and it is essential that the next government, whatever its make-up, sees the transport portfolio as a high priority responsibility.

“Our fear is that transport will be used as a political football during this period of horse trading.This would be a mistake.Transport must not be the toy that is used to keep the kids happy while the grown-ups get on with running the country.”

Related topics: Regulation

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