Defra took the decision to delay the introduction of fees for import checks of high-priority plants from the EU for 5 months to give businesses more time to prepare and adjust to the new charging arrangements. This has enabled an accurate calculation of the fees and allowed businesses more time to successfully implement the change. During this time, Defra communicated extensively with industry and stakeholder groups to ensure they were prepared for the new fees coming in.
The methodology used to calculate fees for plant health services was agreed with trade following a fees review and consultation in 2017.
It has long been UK Government policy to charge for many publicly provided goods and services. The standard approach is to set fees to recover the full costs of service delivery. This relieves the general taxpayer of costs, so that they are properly borne by users who benefit from a service. This allows for a more equitable distribution of public resources and enables lower public expenditure and borrowing. Defra plant health services operate in line with that principle and have done for many years. Plant health fees are reviewed regularly and adjusted to ensure no under, or over, recovery of costs and amended as necessary.