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2021 Statement from PAC/PAF Chair Ron Gainsford OBE

Ron Gainsford OBE, Chair of UKAS Policy Advisory Forum and Council provided the following statement for UKAS’ Annual Report.

The Policy Advisory Forum and Policy Advisory Council perform a significant role in UKAS governance. I have been a member of both for some years and for the last six it has been my privilege to be Chair of each.

When UKAS was established in 1995, the importance of stakeholder input into its strategic policy making process was recognised. The Policy Advisory Forum compromised of a broad range of key UKAS stakeholders and was set up to provide this opportunity. It also assists UKAS to continually operate in the public interest in its role as the UK’s national accreditation body. The Forum meets annually and at our event last September it discussed strategic priorities including how UKAS worked with its stakeholders to respond to the challenges and opportunities from Brexit, Covid 19 and the post Covid world; and the impact of new technologies on the quality and conformity assessment industries. This year the Forum will welcome the Civil Aviation Authority and the Considerate Constructors Scheme as new members and thus reflecting of how UKAS’ stakeholder interests and reach continue to expand.

The Policy Advisory Council is elected and drawn from the Forum. It meets more frequently and provides advice to UKAS on more detailed policy issues. 2020 has been another busy, challenging but productive year for UKAS and both the Council and Forum have played an important role in supporting new initiatives and projects. These include the work UKAS has been doing with DHSC on accrediting private providers of Covid testing and with MHCLG and industry partners to develop a new competence framework for those involved in the construction and management of high-risk buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. PAC and PAF Members have also been instrumental in highlighting the risks from non-accredited certification.

In addition to our regular scrutiny of reports from UKAS Board meetings and on its international, development and operational activities, the PAC also has a role to ensure the activities of UKAS related bodies do not compromise the impartiality, confidentiality and objectivity of its accreditations. This year the PAC has signed off a number of agreements following careful analysis for any conflicts of interest. These include agreements with the Forensic Capability Network, the Information Commissioners Office and Defra.

Going forward, challenges remain as the fallout from the Pandemic continues and the UK navigates new trading relationships in the post Brexit world.  However, having demonstrated agility, resilience and innovation in its response to this extraordinary year UKAS is well placed to tackle these head on. The PAF and PAC will ensure that UKAS continues to steer a competent and innovative course reflecting the needs of its many stakeholders. We all look forward to playing our full part in ongoing UKAS success.