The Board received an information report on the Worcestershire Food and Drink Association (WF& DA).
The Business and Relationships Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) informed the Board that in 2012 the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership’s (WLEP) Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) to the Government, set out its ambitions for business growth and job creation in the County. In particular, the WLEP had identified the Agri-Food, Agri Tech, Horticulture and Forestry Sector as a top priority for accelerated growth.
The SEP had requested that the WLEP local and national regulators worked in partnership to address regulatory barriers to growth and to develop innovative solutions for a national Agri-Food Sector Exemplar Pilot with the potential for a national roll-out across England.
In 2013, WLEP and WRS formed a strategic partnership through its Joint Regulators and Business Charter Action Plan. The partnership was a pioneering and an established national champion of Regulatory Delivery’s (RD), part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Better Business for All (BBfA) programme.
The report provided details on Phase 1 and 2 of the scheme and highlighted that Phase 3 would look at how to engage with the catering sector to understand their needs and requirements, in order to design a category of membership that would meet their needs, and to encourage their membership into the WF&DA.
There were clear and tangible benefits to WRS for the sustainability of WF&DA. Businesses would find they were growing in confidence in complying with regulations and would reduce unnecessary business costs and reap business growth dividends. WRS as the regulator would improve service co-ordination and efficiency, by working pro-actively with businesses and would be recognised as a key part of the business support packages available through WF&DA.
By working together, WRS and WF&DA would be able to show how the improved business-regulator relationship would enhance compliance, mutual trust and confidence and would inevitably help Worcestershire attract more business and inward investment.
The Head of Regulatory Services, WRS, stated that this was a really excellent project and a piece of work that enabled WRS to support businesses in the best way that the service could. As regulators WRS had more contact with businesses than any other officers in local authorities and WRS would continue to work with the WF&DA once it had come into being as an independent entity so that the two organisations could work together to support growth of food businesses in the County.
The Board were further informed that the work up to this point had been funded by WLEP and the Head of Regulatory Services, WRS thanked them for their ongoing support in this which meant there had been no financial implications for partners up to this point. Future funding for WF&DA would be based on membership contributions and grants secured for activities, so again it would not present a financial burden to partners.
The Chairman expressed her thanks to officers and commented that it was good to see a proactive report of this nature demonstrating the positive role of the regulatory service in supporting local businesses and the economy.
RESOLVED that the information report on the Worcestershire Food and Drink Association, be noted.