First 100 Days...
1. INSTITUTIONAL ARCHITECTURE
• Sub-Committee on Food abolished. This is retrograde. It was the first cross-Govt body since abolition of Ministry of Food that focussed on food policy per se.
• Cabinet Sub-Committee on European Affairs (pdf) Despite CAP accounting for c40% of EU budget , this important Cabinet committee does not include Caroline Spelman, Sec of State for EFRA (as of July 27 2010).
Regional Development Agencies axed.
• See CLG written Ministerial Statement. England now to have no regional bodies. This will affect many rural development schemes that build links between farm services and food outlets.
Defra’s arm’s length bodies cut
• Cuts in arm’s length bodies. See Ministerial Statement of July 22:
o Withdrawing Defra funding from the Sustainable Development Commission. SDC Chair comments
o Abolishing the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution TUC Comment
o Abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board, the 15 Agricultural Wages Committees, the 16 Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees and the Committee on Agricultural Valuation; More on the abolition of AWB
o Abolishing the Inland Waterways Advisory Council; and
o Abolishing the Commons Commissioners.
Food Standards Agency
• Its nutrition role is to go into DH, and Country of Origin Labelling + other bits into Defra. Turning FSA into narrower microbiological safety body
• No formal announcement yet but there are media reports of 800 jobs to go this year and cumulatively to cut 2,500
• NHS: General thinking is given in Equity and Excellence: liberating the NHS
• Arm’s length bodies: July 26 Secretary of State Andrew Lansley announced that the number of his quangos will be reduced to between eight and 10 from the current 18. Ones that will go include the Health Protection Agency, Alcohol Education & Research Council. A new quango will be created - HealthWatch England - under the control of the Care Quality Commission, which inspects trusts. See: Liberating the NHS: Report of the arms-length bodies review published July 26. DoH Statement
2. POLICY / POLITICAL THINKING
• Defra Structural Reform Plan (pdf): 3 foci - mainly driven by volunteers
o Support and develop British farming and encourage sustainable food production
o Help to enhance the environment and biodiversity to improve quality of f life
o Support a strong and sustainable green economy, resilient to climate change
• Rural Renaissance thinking: C Spelman at HRH Countryside Fund conference July 23 2010 /
• Consumer labelling: C Spelman at Smith Institute conference July 13 2010 /
• New process for a 2011 Environment White Paper announced July 26
• Review of waste policy set up:
• Public Sector Catering
o Healthier food mark axed. July 26 2010 Dept Health Ministerial Statement by Anne Milton (still not on DoH website)
- NICE Report public health guidance Government response is that NICE over reached its remit and that it is up to parents..leading to Sir Jamie putdown. Mr Oliver's campaign has increased the uptake of healthy lunches, with one study suggesting that children are likely to have less time off, and work better as a result.
NHS/Health Care Services
• This is to be an extensive re-organisation and seems to centre on the NHS SHA & PCTs being cut with power reverting to GPs buying services, plus hospitals becoming independent Trusts, ie more free standing. The impact on food includes:
- Uncertainty for allied healthcare professionals health visitors, dieticians etc
• Other changes signalled (not announced) are:
- A New public health service to be created
- A new public health White Paper to be published on October 20
The new academies and free schools will be free from local authority control, meaning:
• Nutritional standards for school food will not be legal requirements, although the new academies will still be required to provide free school meals.
• Freeing up curriculum means that practical cooking lessons will not be compulsory in secondary schools.
• Partnerships with industry increase the opportunity for food companies to use schools to promote and market their products.
Question in parliament 12 July 2010 Academies: Food
Mr Gibb: "The freedom and autonomy enjoyed by Academies is crucial to enabling them to drive up standards. We believe that Academies should have the freedom to respond to parental demand and provide a high standard of food and an appropriate curriculum that best meets the needs of their pupils. We will require Academies to provide free school meals for pupils who are entitled to them in the same way as for maintained schools"
A step too far: PM Cameron overturns - live on air, suggestion from Min of Health Anne Milton to remove free milk for under 5s. She suggested that £60 m could be saved on that free milk for all under-fives by raising the value of Healthy Start vouchers for the less well-off. Cameron knows the iconic status of milk - evidenced by 'Milk Snatcher' Thatcher years before.
Less has been made of Michael Gove's plan, blessed by Mr Cameron, to cancel the free school meals that should have become available to half a million more poorer children from September.
Why, if school milk is sacrosanct, are the other guarantors of children's health being thrown to the wolves?
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