CIEH welcomes a new report from Unchecked UK that shows support for maintaining and strengthening standards in Wales – from workplace protection to environmental safeguards.
The report is based on public opinion research by YouGov that tested attitudes to environmental protections, food standards, employment regulations, and enforcement of tax laws among Welsh citizens.
The report found that:
- The majority (70%) of respondents want more regulation of large businesses, or to see current levels maintained, with just 4% expressing a desire that large businesses be regulated less
- Respondents from across the voter base, in all age groups, and from all regions, identified most strongly with statements which portray regulations in a positive light
- Welsh voters generally support keeping or strengthening EU-derived rules, such as protections for habitats and wildlife, food safety and cleanliness standards, workplace health and safety protections, and regulations on the production and use of chemicals. 78% of Leave voters, for example, think that the UK government should strengthen or keep health and safety regulations
- Welsh voters are proud of and protective over Welsh food, and resistant to any potential weakening of food quality or sustainability standards. Most respondents think that food should only be able to be sold in Wales if it meets Welsh food standards, although there are significant differences in opinion between respondents who intend to vote Conservative in the forthcoming Senedd elections, compared with prospective Labour and Plaid Cymru voters
The polling data represents voters from all political parties and found that over 60% of each party believe that the UK government should keep or increase environmental protections, even if this makes it harder to secure trade deals with other countries. The report also found that regardless of political persuasion voters believed that employment regulations are necessary as well as fair work practices for Welsh Businesses.
Kate Thompson, Director of CIEH Wales, said:
“Environmental health practitioners play a key role in protecting people’s health and wellbeing, being directly involved in regulation of health and safety at work as well as food safety and environmental protection. It is therefore great to see that Welsh voters support common-sense rules to protect people and strong standards in Wales and clearly appreciate the hard work of environmental health teams working to uphold these standards.
There are significant pressures on local authority budgets and unprecedented demands on the environmental health workforce. As a key component of the public health workforce, there is a need to ensure there is sufficient environmental health capacity to provide the resilience we need going forward. We are calling for a fundamental review of the environmental health workforce in Wales which includes input from Welsh Government, local authorities, national regulators, academia and the professional body.
Protecting regulation is a cross boundary political issue that is important as we plan for our future outside of the EU and Welsh voters will not support any moves to weaken important regulations that protect the well-being of humans or the environment.”