Following a detailed review of the delivery of official controls in approved meat plants, including slaughterhouses, the Food Standards Agency Board decided last July that continuance of the level of subsidy paid to industry into the future was unsustainable, and the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) should seek to recover an increasing proportion of those costs through industry charges. At the same time, the MHS would be expected to become a more efficient organisation that will carry out its role at less cost.
Through a programme of transformation, the cost base of the MHS is being reduced from £91.3 million in 2006-07 to £75 million in 2011-12 in real terms in order to reduce the burden on industry as charge rates to businesses are increased. A new approach to charging is being developed with key stakeholders, including industry, and is taking into consideration that small and geographically isolated abattoirs may need some continuing support. Proposals for the new charging system will be subject to full public consultation, which will include a regulatory impact assessment.