Local authority leaders have welcomed a funding boost to port health authorities but warn that ‘many uncertainties’ remain for councils.
The Government has announced £10m of additional funding for port health authorities ahead of the end of the EU Transition Period.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) EU Exit Taskforce, welcomed the cash injection.
However, he said that the additional work that was needed to be done to prepare the UK border for the end of the transition period was ‘extremely challenging’ and he warned that ‘many uncertainties remain for councils.’
‘The small number of specialist staff who carry out important checks on goods coming into the UK are also needed at the frontline of the fight against COVID-19,’ said Cllr Bentley.
‘These are highly specialist roles and, even with funding made available and the support of the new Environmental Health Officer register, councils may find it hard to recruit for these positions due to a national shortage of qualified staff.
‘As well as a commitment to make funding available beyond March, when new staff will be needed, we also need clarity on additional measures that can be taken to spread the burden of new checks and prepare if the required staff cannot be recruited in time.
‘More widely, councils and Local Resilience Forums urgently need access to all available information about projected impacts on road networks, and confirmation of decisions about new local transit points for ports.’