Public Sector: Food

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Boycott Baroness Boycott Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have made to ensure that public sector institutions including (1) schools, (2) hospitals, and (3) care homes, are protected from the ten per cent rise in food prices expected by the Governor of the Bank of England in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

As a responsible government, we are preparing for all eventualities including that of leaving the European Union without a deal. Extensive work to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario has been under way for the last two years to ensure the country continues to operate as smoothly as possible from the day we leave.

It is sensible contingency planning for the Government to ensure providers for critical public services are prepared and ready for a no deal. Lead departments for specific public sector catering (e.g. DHSC for hospital trusts, DfE for schools and MoJ for prisons) have been talking to key food suppliers to those public services to ensure resilient supply chains. Defra is also working closely with MHCLG to ensure local authorities are involved as part of wider planning in case of a no deal scenario. Departments are confident that the supply of quality, nutritious meals in public sector settings will be maintained, in all scenarios.

Regarding food prices, we have observed that the most important drivers of change in the cost of food on an ongoing basis are commodity prices, exchange rates and oil prices. This will continue to be the case once the UK has left the EU. The UK Government has no direct control of these factors; we work closely with industry to promote transparency for consumers and internationally to promote open global markets.

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