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British Furniture Confederation: Activity Review

All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group Meetings 

On 17 May 2021, the All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group (APPFIG) hosted a meeting to discuss the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the furniture industry and a range of emerging problems the sector was facing including steel and foam shortages, and issues at ports. 

Following the meeting, the MPs present took away a range of actions to follow up with Ministers by writing and asking parliamentary questions. 

The APPFIG is due to meet on 13 July 2021 to discuss the latest developments and issues facing the furniture industry.  The meeting will be led by Mike Wood MP, Chair of the APPFIG, and will be attended by other parliamentarians, including Vice-Chair of the APPFIG Mark Eastwood MP. 

Response to DEFRA Consultation on Waste Prevention 

On 4 June 2021, the BFC submitted a response to the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) consultation on its new waste prevention plan for England. In this response, the BFC cautioned the Government on the unintended consequences of treating the furniture industry as a single, homogenous sector in its plans to consult on an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for furniture by the end of 2025. 

A press release on the BFCAs response to DEFRAs consultation has been prepared for publication. 

APPFIG and BFC Activity on Brexit support fund 

The BFC has raised concerns about the support offered by the Brexit Support Fund. The BFC highlighted concerns with stakeholders that none of the 30 industry applicants have been approved for support during the most recent Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy transition forum.  Chairman of the BFC, Jonathan Hindle, has raised the same issues relating to the Brexit Support Fund at a roundtable discussion with Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully MP.  

Vice-Chair of the APPFIG, Mark Eastwood MP, has agreed to raise the low approval rate of the Brexit Support Fund with the Government. 

APPFIG and BFC Activity on UK Membership of CEN 

The BFC has discussed the benefits of the UKs leading role in the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and how it has created positive regulations for the UK.  During the meeting of the APPFIG on 17 May 2021, Mark Eastwood MP and APPFIG Chair Mike Wood MP agreed to write a letter to the Cabinet Office highlighting why the UK should renew membership of CEN.  

On the 26 May 2021, Mark Eastwood MP asked Minister Scully an oral question about the possibility of renewing UK CEN membership. Mr Scully thanked Mark Eastwood MP for his commitment to the furniture industry and stated that the British Standards Institution (BSI) had informed the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of its intention to retain its CEN membership. Mr Scully stated that the Government supported this position. 

Mark Eastwood MP also wrote to Minister Scully to highlight the importance of the UK’s continued membership of CEN and of the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC). On 14 June 2021, Minister Scully replied to Mark Eastwood MP with a letter that confirmed that the BSI had informed the Department of their intention to retain their membership of the European standards organisations in line with the wishes of UK stakeholders.   

Letter to BEIS Minister on Supply Shortages 

During the APPFIG meeting on 17 May 2021, members of the BFC raised their concerns surrounding shortages of the supply of products and components essential to the manufacturing of furniture. Mark Eastwood MP agreed to write to Minister Scully on behalf of the APPFIG to highlight the issue that supply shortages pose to the furniture industry and consumers.  

Questions to Irish Authorities on Flammability Regulations and Mutual Recognition 

The BFC has highlighted uncertainty around the continuation of mutual recognition of flammability regulations with Ireland and the potential costs of the termination of mutual recognition. The BFC, British Retail Consortium (BRC) and UK Textile Laboratory Forum (UKTLF) are working together on guidance for the industry on the differences between the two sets of Regulations. 

The BFC, in collaboration with the BRC and UKTLF, have submitted questions to the Irish Authorities on the differences between flammability regulations in the UK and Republic of Ireland. The Deputy Director of the CCPC has confirmed that she has received the questions and will review and co-ordinate their side with the Irish authorities. During the last meeting of the APPFIG on 17 May 2021, Mark Eastwood MP agreed to raise this issue with the Government.  

Consultation on the UKs future regime for the exhaustion of IP rights 

The BFC has offered to assist Anti Copying in Design (ACID) with a response to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy consultation on the UKs future regime for the exhaustion of IP rights. ACID has met with the Alliance for IP and their ACID Legal Affiliates. ACID has offered to share their thoughts going forward and value the BFCAs offer of support. This consultation closes on 31 August 2021.