Downing Street is under fire for failing to record how much British food is being served either there – or at Chequers – during official functions.
The Countryside Alliance sent Freedom of Information requests to the departments responsible for the six main government residences to see how much of the food served at official functions was domestically produced.
The Cabinet Office, which is responsible for No 10 Downing Street and Chequers, admitted: “There is no information on whether the proportion of food procured in the past 12 months was domestically produced.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (responsible for One Carlton Gardens and Chevening) also stated that that there was no detailed breakdown for individual residences.
The Treasury – responsible for No. 11 Downing Street and Dorneywood – responded that it did not hold the information, as much of its catering was outsourced.
But it did go on to provide details of the two main catering companies that it uses for official functions and the percentage of food that they source from within the UK (95 and 70-80%, respectively).
The Treasury also confirmed that “in excess of 80% of the food used by Dorneywood caterers is sourced in the UK”.
Procurement of British food is not being taken seriously by the Prime Minister, says Simon Hart
Simon Hart, Countryside Alliance chief executive, said the requests were submitted at time when many British farmers continue to struggle to compete on a level playing field with foreign competitors.
“This is simply not good enough. When the government’s own Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative has been in place for six years, there is no excuse for key government residences not being able to tell us how much of the food they are procuring and serving at official functions is British.
“The failure of No. 10 Downing Street to record or monitor the provenance of the food they are serving to visitors is particularly galling and shows that the procurement of British food and its promotion is, despite his own Secretary of State’s calls, not being taken seriously by the Prime Minister.
“While progress has been made in recent years, all government residences and departments must lead by example. The government’s official residences, in particular, offer a unique opportunity for ministers to promote all that is best about British farming to their high profile and influential guests and to show some real pride in our world-beating farmers and growers. The procurement of British produce must be a priority for all public bodies.”