Government turns down funding recommendation for “critical services”

The decision is seen as a failure to invest in critical health protection services at a particularly challenging time.
27 October 2021 , by Katie Coyne

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) have sent a joint letter to Michael Gove following the Government’s decision not to guarantee funds for new Environmental Health and Trading Standards recruits.

A key recommendation from a nine-month Cross Government Review of Regulatory Services was the establishment of a £14m ring-fenced fund for new recruits. The initiative would secure 4,500 sorely needed apprentices across regulatory services. But the Government has decided not to guarantee funds for new Environmental Health (EH) and Trading Standards (TS) recruits in its forthcoming spending review.

Both institutes representing EH and TS – the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute - have sent a joint letter to Michael Gove, the secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, urging him to share his “rationale” as to why it has been left out.

The CIEH and CTSI chief executives, Dr Phil James and John Herriman respectively, wrote: “We believe this further failure to invest in critical health protection services at this time given the scale of the challenges ahead is a short-sighted decision and we would be keen to understand the rationale behind why the proposal has not been submitted for consideration as part of the spending reviews?”

“These are key health protection functions that are very much part of the public health community.”

They argued, EH and TS have been instrumental in helping national and local governments protect the public, and support businesses, through the pandemic. They added: “These roles are not simply ‘regulatory’, as the description often applied to them suggests. These are key health protection functions that are very much part of the public health community.”

The letter argued that both roles are key to supporting the Levelling Up agenda – to improve standards of living across the country – and that EH plays a role in climate change planning and net zero within local authorities. TS is also key in the delivery of the ‘Construction Product Regulations 2022’ supporting the Building Safety Bill improving home safety and protections in high-rise buildings following the Grenfell tower tragedy.

CIEH director Northern Ireland, Gary McFarlane said: “It’s basically the government ignoring its own advice. The government has spent all this time and money and now they have ignored their own recommendations – and everybody is left thinking ‘why did we do this then?’”

McFarlane added that he did not think regulatory services was an accurate moniker of what EH does and that a better description was health protection. “EH is an awful lot more than regulation. It supports businesses, vital to the economy, and protects key elements of what keeps the public safe – it’s unseen until something goes dreadfully wrong.”

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