CTSI and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have voiced their “considerable disappointment” at the announcement that the Government’s spending review will not consider a proposed ring-fenced fund for regulatory compliance apprenticeships. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced that it was deprioritising the fund due to pressures on government finances.
The institutes, representing the trading standards profession and environmental health professionals, wrote to Michael Gove MP asking why the Government decided to drop the fund from the spending review given that it was a key recommendation of the nine-month Cross-Government Review of Regulatory Services led by Gove’s department.
In their joint letter, the institutes highlighted the vital role of regulatory services in supporting consumers and businesses during the COVID-19 lockdowns and the services’ work in supporting the UK Government’s levelling up agenda.
The fund, which could have supported the creation of 4,500 apprenticeships in England, would have provided much-needed investment in two services facing capacity struggles due to several years of cuts.
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “I am incredibly disappointed by this decision, particularly after a year in which the Government has relied heavily on regulatory services to protect the public during the pandemic. Both trading standards and environmental health protection services face significant challenges both now and in the immediate future. The proposed fund could have set a course for a sustainable future for both professions, drawing new blood into them and providing hope for future investment.
“The roles trading standards and consumer protection play goes far beyond regulation – they are key to supporting the levelling-up agenda working to support local businesses to improve the safety, health, well-being and the prosperity of local communities.
“We have asked Mr Gove to explain the exact reasoning behind the decision and have invited him to open a dialogue to discuss this vital issue so that we can make the case for these critical services at the earliest opportunity.”
Dr Phil James, Chief Executive of CIEH, said: “We are bitterly disappointed by the apparent refusal from the UK Government to commit to supporting public health at this vital time.
“CIEH has worked hand in hand with DLUHC for nine months on the Working Group’s vital review of regulatory services, championing the role of public and environmental health professionals in combatting COVID-19. As such, we strongly supported the Working Group’s own recommendation of supporting public health apprenticeships within local authorities.
“Considering the key role public health professionals played in the pandemic, we are deeply concerned by rumours from within Government that the Treasury will not be considering these recommendations. This is especially confusing in light of the very limited funding required to meet this commitment and how it aligns closely with the Government’s own levelling-up agenda.
“We join CTSI in urging the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, to show their support for public health across our country and support our call for apprenticeships.”