The Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC) has called on Government to delay ‘business as usual’ legislation and consultations while the sector focuses on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
It has also recommended that Ministers ensure banks, insurers and landlords play their part in keeping the industry alive, and warned new employment and businesses support measures may still be required beyond October, when the furlough scheme ends.
The proposals were made in a new ‘Covid-19 recovery plan’ put together by the FDSC, which brings together representatives from across the agri-food chain, including the devolved nations.
Terry Jones, industry co-chair of the FDSC and director general of the NFU, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the strength of the UK food chain, and it has shown just how well industry and Government can work together.
“However, it has also laid bare the fragility of our food system and reminded us all of its importance.
“This report clearly outlines what needs to be done to ensure the entire sector can restart successfully and build a greener, healthier food system for all.”
The report goes on to call for a ‘united effort’ to support the industry’s worst-hit sectors, including hospitality and hospitality suppliers, recommending VAT be temporarily removed on food and drink consumed out of home.
Other asks of Government include monitoring food imports to prevents any compromise of safety or animal and plant health standards, accelerating plans to increase exports and reviewing whether a full return to competition law is necessary or desirable.
Ian Wright, industry co-chair of the FDSC and chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Collaboration has been a key theme during the pandemic, and we must take our shared learnings forward as we look to support all parts of the supply chain with their recovery.
“The FDSC’s recovery report is a clear and comprehensive plan which ensures we can do just that, while helping to build a sustainable food system for the future.”