Report published 4 May 2018. Awaiting Government response.
Scope of the inquiry
The Public Accounts Committee is conducting inquiries looking at individual Departments’ readiness for Brexit, based on work conducted by the National Audit Office.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs oversees UK agriculture, fishing, and regulations on food and produce being imported and exported – amongst other duties. As many of these things are decided on an EU-wide basis, nearly all its work is likely to be affected by Brexit.
One aspect of this is a requirement for many changes in the law to ensure a smooth transition to non-membership of the EU.
Another aspect of this work is the requirement for new IT systems. Of the 43 EU Exit workstreams Defra needs to deliver, 20 include an element of IT, which is often costly and difficult to execute.
The Department estimated in November 2017 that it would need 1,200 new full-time-equivalent staff to complete all its Brexit projects. It had at that time hired 650. It has also restructured its management to better integrate Brexit work with its "business as usual".
The Committee will ask the Department about its readiness for the challenges ahead including changes to regulation and to the border, whether it has enough resource to deliver what it needs to, and how it is working with other Government organisations to make sure the UK’s transition from the EU is smooth and well-coordinated.