The government has given UK firms an extra year to comply with post-Brexit product safety marking rules after pressure from business groups.
Companies had faced a 1 January 2022 deadline to switch from Europe’s CE mark to the new UK conformity assessed (UKCA) standard for most products but this will be pushed back to 2023.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) welcomed the move saying it would protect supply chains and “make a huge difference to consumers” on the availability of items such as phones and laptops.
Britain’s post-pandemic economic recovery is already showing signs of being held back by a cocktail of supply chain woes from lorry driver shortfalls to global chip shortages.
The new product safety marking rules will affect businesses supplying most products on the market in England, Scotland and Wales, the government said.
It said the deadline extension followed “extensive and ongoing engagement with business groups” and reflected the impact of the pandemic on businesses.
Firms have been able to use the new UKCA markings since 1 January which the government says will allow it to have control over goods regulations “maintaining the high product safety standards expected in the UK”.
But business groups have complained of the burden of having to make the switch to the new standard for decades-worth of CE-marked items.
Manufacturers selling to Britain and the EU also face having to apply two distinct processes, as the UK standard will not apply on the continent.
William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC, said: “Businesses will welcome this reprieve… which will protect supply chains and make a huge difference to consumers on the availability of items such as phones and laptops.
“There is currently a lack of testing capacity to enable the retesting of decades worth of CE marked items for the new UKCA specification, so this measure will be hugely important in allowing time for that capacity to be built and for retesting to take place.
“A wider problem does still exist however – complex supply chains such as those in the automotive industry still face having to duplicate markings on certain components and incurring large costs for testing as a result.
“This could compromise the output of these industries, limit availability of goods for consumers and create mounting cost pressures on British businesses.”
Mr Bain called for the government to give full consideration to the impact of “any decision to completely pull the plug on CE-marked goods, risking incurring costs to our economy that we may come to regret”.