Who makes food policy in England – and food policy coordination under Covid19

Who makes food policy in England, and the need for coordinated policy making in response to Covid

Kelly Parsons, Rosalind Sharpe and Corinna Hawkes

Responsibility for food policy within English government involves 16 different departments. In the first study of its kind, Dr Kelly Parsons identifies each department, locating where government food policy is shaped and conducted in England. It clearly demonstrates the complexity of governance influencing the food system and what we eat.

Produced as the first instalment of the ‘Rethinking Food Governance’ series, the report reveals many factors, such as size, structure, goals, responsibilities, key activities, relationships to Local Authorities and devolved administrations for each government actor. Revealing this information helps all actors in the food system to interact, or spot opportunities and levers for policy change.

Relevance of the findings took heightened importance under the Covid-19 pandemic. Government reactions to food supply issues exposed how increased coordination could aid responses and build trust in times of crisis, both now and in the future.

Key information from the report has been used to develop a guidance note specifically tackling government responses to Covid-19, aimed at increasing the resilience of food systems. It proposes a cross-government committee which could help effectively address issues of both supply and demand in the food chain, whilst also addressing the multiple dimensions of the UK food system.

About the authors

Kelly Parsons

Kelly Parsons, now a Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire, led the FRC’s work on governance as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Centre for Food Policy. Her research focuses on policy and governance related to food systems, and includes policy integration, policy coherence, food governance arrangements, and systems approaches to food. She co-authored several of the Centre for Food Policy’s Briefs on food policy, ‘including on the food system, integrated food policy and food policy coherence. She has a PhD in food policy from the Centre for Food Policy, where her thesis was a historical, comparative policy analysis of two attempts to create a cross-government integrated food policy in the UK and Australia.

Rosalind Sharpe

Dr Rosalind Sharpe is a research fellow at the Food Research Collaboration, where her research focuses on food policy in the UK, the food impacts of Brexit, and the sustainability of food systems. She is also responsible for working with the academics and civil society organisations that form the FRC’s membership. She was previously a journalist and editor.

Corinna Hawkes

Professor Corinna Hawkes is Director of the Centre for Food Policy. She has worked with international agencies, governments, NGOs, think tanks and universities at the international level, as well as nationally and locally in the UK, United States and Brazil. She now teaches part of the MSc in Food Policy at the Centre for Food Policy, and in addition to her academic work sits on the London Food Board and is Vice-Chair of the Mayor of London’s Child Obesity Taskforce.

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