Engaging with Government and campaigning for Environmental Health

03 November 2021, Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy & Campaigns, CIEH

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CIEH’s campaigning activities have been running hot for the past few months as the Health and Care Bill, Environment Bill, the Chancellor’s Budget, and COP26, all come to a head at the same time.

Fortunately, the strategic steps we have taken to build coalitions and engage with politicians across the political spectrum have meant that we have been able to inject some real momentum into our endeavours.

Cosmetics has been one such area. Working alongside six other public health organisations we joined with Caroline Nokes MP to table a vital amendment to the Health and Care Bill, giving the Secretary of State the power to introduce a licensing regime for non-surgical aesthetic procedures in England and making it an offence for someone to practise without a licence.

After extensive diplomacy, we were able to secure the support of Labour’s Justin Madders MP (Shadow Minister for Secondary Care, Workforce and Patient Health) meaning that our amendment to the Health and Care Bill was formerly debated during the Bill’s Committee Stage last week. Our amendment is now supported by 13 MPs coming from the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, and the Green Party, whilst the Scottish National party spoke in favour of the amendment during Committee Stage. Once again showing the value in seeking a broad range of political support.

CIEH’s work behind the scenes has also seen us secure the support of the APPG on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing, alongside key players in the cosmetics industry itself in the form of the Beauty Industry Group (BIG), encompassing the National Hair and Beauty Federation, and we have now also started working with the Tattoo and Piercing Union.

Whilst our cosmetics campaign surges forward, another area of intense focus for CIEH is the Environment Bill.

Working through the Healthy Air Campaign (HAC) coalition we secured a solid victory when the House of Lords voted for an amendment to the Bill committing the UK Government to meeting World Health Organisation (WHO) targets on air quality by 2030.

As anticipated, the Government published its position opposing nearly all of the amendments inserted into the Bill by the Lords and then proceeded to vote them out, citing excessive disruption to our daily lives in meeting these commitments but pledging to create their own target-setting processes.

HAC includes high-profile organisations such as Client Earth and Asthma UK/British Lung Foundation. Working in partnership with such organisations has allowed us to help create a parliamentary coalition from across the political spectrum to push for greater commitments on air quality and we will continue to champion this as the process moves on.

One area of the Environment Bill that very quickly gained salience is the provisions for sewerage across the UK. It is a complex issue but we are pleased to see that the Government is now tabling its own amendment to the Bill, strengthening provisions in this important area and placing legal duties on water companies. It is a step in the right direction.

On the Budget, we made three separate submissions to the Chancellor’s Spending Review. One alongside the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), another with the Local Government Association (LGA), and a final submission in coalition with the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH). Our submissions centred on the call for the UK Government to implement the recommendations of its own Cross Government Review and highlighted the need to create a ring-fenced bursary scheme of £14m for local authorities to recruit new Regulatory Compliance Officer (RCO) apprentices.

We are going to continue to work very closely with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to ensure that this call remains on the agenda and that the need to strengthen public health is not forgotten.

Whichever policy area or campaign we are focussing on we always look to harness the strengths and support of our partner organisations and our allies in parliament. By doing so we raise our profile, become more impactful with key decision makers, and place ourselves in a stronger position to campaign for Environmental Health.

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