Issues for local government resulting from the end of transition period

Information on regulatory services, port health authorities, tariff costs, procurement, state aid and data.


Regulatory services

EU regulations that have been converted into UK law will continue in January. Services will have to reference the new UK law from 1 January 2021 assuming all the relevant Statutory Instruments are in place.

Details of the Statutory Instruments that impact on local government
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 secondary legislation laid with impacts on local government (gov.uk)

Further guidance and latest Government updates
Preparing local government for 1 January 2021 (gov.uk)

Regulatory services, such as trading standards and environmental health, have been at the forefront of Brexit and now transition work – as well as more recently the response to COVID-19. New checks on goods will have implications for the capacity of these services as we expect additional responsibilities particularly for ports and councils associated with inland checking, as well as a general uptake in business support and compliance issues associated with a changing regulatory environment.

The following issues are the ones highlighted by local authorities

EU to UK law

EU law provided most of the legal framework for our regulatory services.  During the transition year, these laws will continue. These EU regulations will now be or have been converted into UK law and will continue in January. Our services will have to reference the new UK law from 1 January 2021.

IT systems and Infrastructure (eg transport)

New systems and infrastructure will be needed to support changes in regulatory regime, especially in Port Authorities. Councils will need new resources for these changes and the assurance of the readiness and robustness of key IT systems, for both Port Heath Authorities and traders. The LGA is working with Government to address these issues.

Additional responsibilities

There will also be new requirements for council regulatory services, for example to support businesses wishing to export to the EU, in terms of export health certificates (EHCs) and inspections of business premises. These new demands must be put in the context of the existing workload of regulatory services. There is pressure to deliver existing services and our regulatory services have been at the forefront of new track/trace services to provide communities from COVID-19. Demands on these key services, where there are already skills-shortages, needs to be addressed.

Port Health Authorities

Additional port health responsibilities (both air and sea)

As port health authorities, councils are legally responsible for undertaking checks of certain high-risk food and feed products, and live animals, as they enter the country at designated border inspection posts or designated ports of entry.

Controls will now be applied to EU imports not currently subject to inspection. All products of animal origin will need to be pre-notified and require health certification and documentation checks from April 2021. From July 2021, there will be a requirement for physical checks, taking place at the border, a change that require new staffing resources. This will increase the work of port health authorities. 

Although these checks can be funded by charges, the LGA has raised that councils will need upfront investment to recruit staff to carry out a significant number of additional checks, particularly with the pipeline of relevant officers constrained.

Transit points

The Government has published a statement on the Government’s preparations for the end of the transition period: Update to GB-EU Border Operating Model (UK Parliament). This includes publishing the updated Border Operating Model, which provides further detail on how the GB-EU border will work and the actions that traders, hauliers and passengers need to take. The Model also includes a list of the 10 inland sites (see page 24 for more details in the 'The Border with the European Union' PDF) the Government intend to use, as well as the border functions expected at these points. We continue to have discussions with Government about impact the points will have on traffic, construction and utilities work and the need for local communities to influence and shape this policy, as well as outlining any new regulatory responsibilities councils will have at these ports.

Trade with the EU

From 1 January the way we trade with the EU will change. To buy or sell from the EU you will need to follow new customs rules or you will not be able to continue to trade. You can find a series of webinars and videos to help prepare for changes on the Government website.

Help and support if your business trades with the EU (gov.uk)

Procurement

Post-Brexit, there is the opportunity to reform procurement rule to better support local economies and jobs.

Councils need a simple and efficient public procurement regime which ensures the best value for public money and respects local decision-making. Shorter timescales, lighter-touch advertising requirements and award procedures, a speedier way of dealing with legal challenges, greater negotiation with suppliers, and a new focus on SMEs and Voluntary Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs), would also be of benefit.

Building procurement and commercial capacity and skills within councils is vital to help make significant savings for the taxpayer and deliver improved services to our residents. The LGA has been working with Cabinet Office to allow access to contract management training for council officers.  More than 1000 local government employees have undertaken the free training so far.  LGA is promoting the training to councils and anyone interested can contact [email protected] for more details

The Government has launched a public consultation by a Green Paper on ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ as we leave the EU on 31 December 2020. The Green paper sets out long-planned changes to UK’s procurement rules, putting value for money and transparency at the heart of the new approach and includes plans to help unleash wider social benefits from public money spent on procurement in line with the existing spirit of the Public Services (Social Value) Act that councils have been following since 2012. The proposals also include measures that councils have been calling to assist them with their procurement;

  • providing more scope to exclude suppliers for poor past performance, and corruption-related matters; and
  • reforming the remedies system, through making the court review process faster and less costly, capping damages, and further investigating the feasibility of tribunals

The LGA’s Procurement team and National Advisory Group (NAG) for Procurement has worked tirelessly to ensure the issues and concerns of the sector were raised and included in the proposed changes to the way we procure as a sector as we leave the EU. We therefore encourage all those involved in public procurement to have their say and respond to the consultation by the 10 March 2021

Find out more about the LGA National Procurement Strategy.

State aid

EU exit provides an opportunity to reform how grants and public subsidies work. Any new state aid rules must be based on local government’s experience of what works on the ground.

Processes can be simplified by introducing flexibilities for councils. A flexible regime allowing councils to tackle the impacts of Covid-19 and support economic recovery continues to be essential. Any future changes to the UK state aid policy could also allow support for non-profit-making activities or social enterprises who reinvest surplus back into the local community. Organisations operating in the culture, heritage, arts, or non-profit sports sectors may also merit a more flexible approach.

Data

The trade deal provided an additional six months to allow the Government to seek an adequacy decisions from the EU under both the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED). If secured, it will allow for the free flow of personal data between the UK and the EU to continue uninterrupted. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has written to all chief executives with guidance on what to do to prepare.

Further information

Using personal data in your business or other organisation after the transition period (gov.uk)

Data Protection at the end of the transition period (Information Commissioner's Office)


LGA contact: [email protected]

Email sign up

To sign up to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government bulletin that includes updates on the transition period, please email: [email protected]

Preparing local government - Government updates
Please note page will be updated regularly to reflect developments as the trade conclude. The page does not provide formal advice on EU transition to councils. It provides a checklist of the issues that LGA has been asked to raise with Government by its membership. Formal Government guidance can be found here: Preparing local government for 1 January 2021 (gov.uk)