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NCASS urges SMEs to act now
Professional body, The Nationwide Caterers' Association (NCASS), has been advised by Glenis Willmott MEP, Head of the European Labour Party, to relaunch a petition they originally ran in April 2014.
The petition, which gained 1000 signatures in just 24 hours (2215 total) was launched to protect small and medium-sized catering businesses against increased fees; it successfully forced the Government to revert their stance in April. The new petition, now online will make representation to a number of Government departments and officials as they take the debate to Europe.
At the beginning of 2014, the European Commission published a proposal to change EU regulation 882/2004. It detailed a number of proposed changes for the industry, with the biggest one being funding changes and the introduction of charges for every food hygiene inspection. At the last minute, after the consultation had closed, the Government amended their stance on the proposal, dropping the SME fee exemption, forcing small businesses to face potential fee increases of several hundred pounds. The petition in April 2014 forced this to revert; a successful first step.
The proposed changes to the regulation, and potentially the exemption for SME businesses, are now up for debate by the Council of Ministers in Europe, before being agreed. There is no guarantee that small businesses will continue to be exempt from inspection charges and in fact, without UK pressure, it is likely the exemption will be dropped. NCASS is therefore calling for people to re-sign the petition before the vote on 14 April 2015. The revised petition is available online here.
Mark Laurie, Director, NCASS said: “The proposed changes, and in particular the proposed inspection fees have the potential to change the whole catering industry; without a small business exemption, SMEs face significantly increased costs that, at best, are likely to be damaging and, at worst, unsustainable.”
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