Seafish begins debate to reduce standard levy rate
Article Date: 2013-08-09
Seafish is to begin discussions with the seafood industry on reducing its standard rate of levy by 10% - this is the first review into changing the levy rates charged to industry in over 14 years.
The preparation of Seafish’s recent corporate plan enabled the organisation to conduct a full financial assessment and determine the budget needed to deliver industry projects. The result is a proposed 10% reduction which will affect over 90% of businesses that currently pay the standard levy rate, and Seafish believes it presents the fairest and simplest way to reduce costs on industry while still delivering the service they require.
The proposed reduction would see Seafish’s income drop from £8 million per annum to around £7.2 million, without any reduction in the quality or quantity of its services to industry.
The levy reduction proposals, contained in a discussion document mailed to all levy payers and stakeholders and available online at www.seafish.org, aim to address the imbalance between the ‘standard’ levy rates applied to most fish and shellfish and the lower rates that apply to cockles, mussels, whelks, pelagic fish, fish for fishmeal and imported fishmeal.
Industry now has 28 days to respond to the proposal starting from today (9 August), submissions can be made online or via a mailed questionnaire. Seafish will then gather and analyse the feedback before publishing a response document along with its formal proposals in late 2013. If the proposals to reduce levy find favour the new rate could be in place by April 2014.
Paul Williams, chief executive, Seafish, said: “It is important that we hear from industry loudly and clearly on whether they support a levy rate reduction or not. Having looked at a number of different options over the past few months, we believe we have arrived at the fairest and simplest solution to help reduce the financial burden on the vast majority of businesses that pay levy. It is, however, for industry to decide.
“Seafish believes in demonstrating value for money for levy payers. We are here to serve the industry and are focused on carrying out our role with the utmost accountability and transparency. Part of that process involved creating a three year corporate plan which enabled us to assess the budget required to meet the requirements of industry.
“Seafish has changed for the better since autumn 2011 when we asked industry whether it still needed a body like Seafish. The industry responded with an emphatic ‘yes’, but said that change was needed to make Seafish the body they required, and asked Seafish to improve its offer. Industry believed that a statutory levy remained the fairest way to fund an organisation whose objectives span a diverse industry but, to ensure that it was collected on a fair basis, a review of levy rates should be agreed.”
As a result, Seafish carried out a recent comprehensive review of its role and future to ensure its activities are designed to give industry the best possible value for the levy they pay. In May this year, Seafish’s three year corporate plan detailed the organisation’s new strategic priorities and outlined the projects which will meet industry objectives.
The deadline for responding to the levy reduction proposals is midnight on Friday 6 September 2013.