Pubs face bill for environmental health inspections

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Environmental health, European union

Each inspection could cost businesses between €200 and €500
Each inspection could cost businesses between €200 and €500
Pubs may have to pay hundreds of pounds a year for environmental health inspections under an EU proposal that businesses foot the bill rather than local councils.

The proposal is part of a range of suggested amendments to EU regulation 882/2004 that, if approved, would be implemented between 2016 and 2020.

The European Parliament has estimated each environmental health inspection could cost businesses between €200 and €500.

An amendment to the proposal suggested individual Governments could include an exemption for small and medium-sized businesses. However, the Food Standards Agency said it has not yet decided whether it will implement the exemptions, adding it would “consult with industry” on the matter.

Hospitality figures have expressed their concerns about the changes, which they say will place an additional burden on pubs.

'Significant figure'

Bob Fox, managing director of the Nationwide Caterers’ Association (NCASS), which lobbied for the exemption for small businesses, said: “Things are tight enough as it is, particularly in the pub trade. If licensed premises suddenly get another burden of £500 a year, straight off the bottom line, it’s a significant figure.”

Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said the amendment would be “another unnecessary headache” for a sector that already faces considerable burdens relating to cost and red tape.

“We believe a mandatory EU requirement is unnecessary and a step too far, so we are pleased the European Parliament has listened to common sense and recommended an exemption for small businesses.

“We will be asking our ministers to support this when the matter comes before the council of ministers later this year,” she said.

'Struggle to afford'

Glenis Willmott MEP, leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, who supported the NCASS’ campaign, said: “Member states should have the flexibility to decide how they finance inspections, and we certainly don’t want to see small businesses facing additional costs that many will struggle to afford.”

Helen Cardy, of licensing law firm Poppleston Allen, said that pubs with a bad track record of hygiene would be hardest hit by the suggested proposals.

She said: “A nice and clean pub could have one inspection a year, but it could go up to four if you have a worse reputation. It’s also worth bearing in mind that anyone can report a business to environmental health, which can trigger a visit.”

Guidance

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) said it was not yet possible to provide a reliable estimated cost, but the money is likely to be recovered on a national basis.

A CIEH spokesman said: “An environmental health inspection is nothing to be afraid of. It means that the publican will have access
to guidance and advice from an expert on food safety and other issues potentially impacting on the safety and wellbeing of customers and staff.”

Related topics: Health & safety

Related news