National Craft Butchers

  • 01892 541412


National Craft Butchers News

NCB local abattoir survey highlights importance of sector and challenges it faces.

NCB Survey highlights the importance of the Abattoir Sector and challenges it faces. 


National Craft Butchers surveyed Small and Local Abattoirs throughout England, Scotland, and Wales in March to May this year. As founding members of the Campaign for Local Abattoirs and the Abattoir Sector Group we have been working on options to ensure the survival of Local abattoirs throughout the UK. The results of our survey have only reinforced the urgency of support for a successful network of small and local abattoirs throughout the UK.

Of the abattoirs surveyed 70% of owners are aged over 51, with 11% over the age of 66.

59% expect to close the business within the next 5 years if action is not taken.

56% do not have a succession plan or someone to take over the business.

Increases in one size fits all regulation, loss of income through hides and skins and lack of education on the meat industry as a skilled and attractive career choice is leading to a cliff edge in terms of skilled food business operators.

All the respondents are offering private kill and cutting and packing services. Without these, many small and rare breed farmers will be unable to get produce to their customers.

The local and small abattoirs are multi species abattoirs able to provide a kill service for multiple species for the same customer. 82% slaughter Cattle, Pigs, Lamb and Sheep, with 53% slaughtering Horned Cattle, 41% slaughtering OTM and 24% slaughtering game.

They are also local businesses providing valuable skilled careers for their employees, on average they provide 4 jobs for community per abattoir.

We need the government to acknowledge the important role of small abattoirs, to ensure urgent regulatory reviews by DEFRA and FSA are prioritised, to invest in the sector and safeguard it for the future. We believe this should include schemes to attract new generations into the Abattoir sector and meat industry as a whole, but we also need to ensure small businesses are not regulated out of existence.

National Craft Butchers are meat industry experts with over 130 years of experience representing independent butchers, farm shops, small abattoirs, processing and wholesale butchery operations as well as key suppliers to the industry.


This press release was issued by National Craft Butchers. For additional press information, please contact Richard Stevenson or Eleanor O’Brien on 01892 541412 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Test and Trace Exemption List

Self Isolation Exemptions

The latest Government announcement regarding exemptions from self-isolation for Critical workers is unlikely to apply to retail butchers. The exemptions are for small numbers of workers and are only applicable on application to Government departments.

The test that is applied when identifying if an individual could attend work is whether they work in critical elements of national infrastructure and whether their absence would be likely to lead to the loss or compromise of this infrastructure resulting in one or both of the following:

  • major detrimental impact on the availability, integrity or delivery of essential services – including those services whose integrity, if compromised, could result in significant loss of life or casualties
  • significant impact on national security, national defence, or the functioning of the state

Please be aware that whilst some staff in some supermarket warehouse/depots may be exempt if an application is made, this does not currently apply to retail staff in supermarkets!

We are of course aware of the importance all Craft Butchers play in their local communities and that the services you provide include processing, and may also include slaughtering or providing food to care homes and schools. In these cases you may wish to make an application for an exemption. If you wish to do so please bear in mind the following –

  • Applications must be made by the business to Defra - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Applications must be for named staff only and only staff who are vital, i.e the owner/manager or a butcher
  • Only staff who have been double vaccinated (and past 14 day point) will be eligible
  • You can not apply for all staff or even most of your staff
  • You need to provide the number of people who it is proposed would leave self-isolation
  • the roles those individuals need to perform (serving customers would not be allowable.)
  • the impact failure to do this would have and when this impact is likely to materialise (for example, is it already an issue or likely to materialise in the coming days)

If the application is granted the employee is only allowed to leave self-isolation to travel directly to work, fulfil their hours and travel directly home it does not enable them to stop self-isolation completely. They must also have daily testing, as an employer making the application it is likely you will be responsible for ensuring your employee and business meets all the ongoing criteria that Defra may put on the exemption.

For those who are not able to obtain an exemption or do not wish to then please bear in mind the following

  • As of 16th August staff who are fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate unless someone in their household is positive (*subject to change by UK Govt)
  • You can minimise risks by encouraging staff to take regular lateral flow tests some even daily before work to help identify cases early.
  • Separate your team by distance wherever possible 2 metres is still required to avoid being classed as a close contact.
  • Make sure ventilation in premises is good
  • Support staff in getting their vaccines with flexibility in working hours and consider paid time off for vaccines.

We will of course keep you all updated as more information is released throughout the day or if anything changes,  but please call us with any questions.

NCB responds to National Food Strategy

National Food Strategy Reponse

National Craft Butchers welcomes the publication of the National Food Strategy. We agree that a balanced diet and less reliance on ultra-processed food is vital to the UK’s health.  We do not however agree that meat should be used as a blanket term. Scientific and medical communities all agree that meat is a key part of a healthy, balanced diet, full of essential vitamins and minerals.

We need to differentiate between intensively farmed animals, which can be part of the problem, and locally produced pasture-fed cattle and sheep which are absolutely part of the solution. In other words, ‘It’s not the cow but the how.’

We believe that the importance of domestic, high-quality, and traceable food production for the nation’s health and wellbeing should not be underestimated. This is the type of produce that our Craft Butchers excel in and we would recommend that customers who care about where their food comes from and how it is produced visit their local Butcher.  

NCB Legislative Director and Abattoir Sector Group Vice Chair John Mettrick noted the report’s recommendation that, ‘The Government should conduct a review of small abattoirs to ensure that the capacity exists to serve the expected increase in numbers of farms using livestock in their rotations.’ John added “This is a critical issue which must be addressed and is one we have been campaigning on for some time, most recently as part of the Abattoir Sector Group. Local supply chains are vital to flexibility and food security and Small Local Abattoirs are a vital link in this chain”

NCB would therefore go further and recommend a specific strategy to develop and support local and regional food systems, with greater investment in short supply chain infrastructure, as a key part of the National Food Strategy’s wider plan for healthy and sustainable food. This strategy would also deliver lower food miles and shorter transport times for animals.

Latest Information from HMRC

Latest Information from HMRC

Latest Information and Reminders from HMRC:

Please see below a reminder of upcoming deadlines and latest information from HMRC, you can find full information or contact them at GOV.UK – contact HMRC

1. Submit your CJRS claims for May

Thank you if you have submitted your May furlough claims already. If you haven’t submitted them yet, you must do so by the deadline of Monday‌‌ ‌14‌‌ ‌June.

You can claim 80% of your furloughed employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month (these limits will also apply to claims for June).

You can claim before, during or after you process your payroll. If you can, it’s best to make a claim once you’re sure of the exact number of hours your employees worked, so you don’t have to amend your claim later.

Conditions of claiming CJRS grants

You must pay the associated employee tax and National Insurance contributions to HMRC. This is a condition of claiming the grant, and not doing so will mean you’ll need to repay the whole of the CJRS grant and you may not be able to claim future CJRS grants.  

If you are having difficulties paying any of your tax liabilities to HMRC, we can work with you to explore affordable payment options – for example, through a payment plan where you can pay over time in instalments. To find out more, go to GOV‌‌.UK and search 'time to pay arrangement'.

Flexibly furloughing employees

If your business continues to be affected by coronavirus, you don’t need to place all your employees on full furlough. You can also use the CJRS flexibly if you bring your employees back to work for some of their usual hours. You can claim a portion of your employee’s usual wage costs for the hours spent on furlough only.

As a reminder, you must not claim under the CJRS for any hours that your employees work. We are carrying out compliance checks to identify error and fraud in claims.

What you need to do now

  1. Check if you’re eligible and work out how much you can claim using our CJRS calculator and examples, by searching 'Job Retention Scheme' on GOV‌‌.UK.
  2. Submit any claims for May, no later than Monday‌‌ ‌14‌‌ ‌June.
  3. Keep records that support the amount of CJRS grants you claim, in case HMRC needs to check them.
  4. Make sure you’re paying employee tax and National Insurance contributions to HMRC and contact us if you're struggling to pay.

Back to the top

2. Changes to the CJRS from July

The UK Government will continue to pay 80% of your furloughed employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, to the end of June.

In July, CJRS grants will cover 70% of employees' usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. In August and September, this will then reduce to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875.

You will need to pay the 10% difference in July, and 20% in August and September, so that you continue to pay your furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work during this time, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

For the hours not worked you can choose to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% level or cap for each month if you wish, at your own expense.

To help you plan ahead for future claim periods, the CJRS calculator is available to help you work out how much you can claim for employees in June, July, August and September. To find this and everything you need to know about the CJRS, search 'Job Retention Scheme' on GOV‌‌.UK.

Back to the top

3. Use our updated CJRS templates to make claiming easier   

We’ve updated our claims process for employers who have 16 or more employees, to make it easier to add their details. You can now use a template if you are claiming for between 16-99 employees, and another if you are claiming for 100 or more employees.

You do not need to do anything differently if you were using our previous template to claim for 100 employees or more, and third-party software incorporating this will still work. 

You must enter all the information in the right format before uploading the completed template so that your claim is processed quickly and successfully. 

We’ve updated the process to help you get your claim right first time and provide all the information needed, to ensure your claims aren’t delayed or stopped. For example, if you can't provide a National Insurance number for an employee, you can now select a reason for this. 

If you make a mistake, the template will highlight it to help you put it right before you submit your claim. Mistakes that will be highlighted include:    

  • details input in the wrong format   
  • incorrect details 
  • duplicated or missing information.  

Please remember not to change the format of the template before you submit it, as that won’t be accepted by our system.   

You can find everything you need to help you make a claim by searching 'claim for wages' on GOV‌‌.UK, including our updated templates, a useful calculator and guidance on the information you need to provide and in what format, to ensure your claim is accepted.

What to do if you’ve overclaimed

Please do not enter negative numbers in the template. If you have overclaimed CJRS grants and you submit your claim using the template, you will need to calculate the overclaimed amount and enter this amount in the ‘overclaim’ box on your claim form.

For more information on paying back grants, go to GOV‌‌.UK and search 'pay back Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme'.

Back to the top

4. VAT deferral – join online by 21‌‌ ‌June

The VAT deferral new payment scheme is open for all businesses who deferred paying VAT due between 20 March‌‌ ‌and 30‌‌ ‌June 2020 and were unable to pay in full by 31 March‌‌ ‌2021.

21‌‌ ‌June is the last day you can join this scheme. If you join by this date you can apply to spread these payments across up to eight instalments.

You can join quickly and simply online without needing to call us. To find out more, including what you need to sign up for online, go to GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK and search 'VAT deferral'.

If you have deferred paying VAT, you may be charged a 5% penalty and/or interest if you do not join the VAT deferral new payment scheme by the deadline of 21‌‌ ‌June, pay in full by 30‌‌ ‌June, or get in touch with us to make an alternative arrangement to pay by 30‌‌‌‌‌‌ ‌June‌‌ ‌2021.

If you're still unable to pay and need more time, please contact us – go to GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK and search 'if you cannot pay your tax bill on time'.

Back to the top

5. Where can I get further support?

Thousands of people have benefitted from our webinars, which offer information on the CJRS and other government support, and how they apply to you. To book online, or to view updated guidance, go to GOV‌‌.UK and search 'help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus'.

If you’re booked on a webinar but can no longer attend, please cancel your place to allow space for others to register.

There’s a list of monthly claims deadlines and a helpful step-by-step guide on GOV‌‌.UK, summarising the latest information on the CJRS and the steps you need to take to make a claim – you can find these by searching 'Job Retention Scheme step by step guide'.

To find out what other financial support may be available for you and your business as part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs, search ‘find coronavirus financial support’ on GOV‌‌.UK.

Back to the top

6. A word about scams

We are aware of recent increases in scam phone calls, emails and texts. If someone contacts you or your employees claiming to be from HMRC saying that you owe tax and face arrest, are due a tax refund, that your National Insurance number has been compromised or asking you to transfer money or give bank details, it is likely to be a scam.

Search GOV‌‌.UK for our 'scams checklist' and to find out how to report tax scams. You can also access the National Cyber Security Centre’s new guide on how to stay secure online and protect yourself or your business against cybercrime by searching 'Cyber Aware'.

REMINDER: Carrier Bag Charges from 21st May

REMINDER: Carrier Bag Charges from 21st May

In England small business’s (under 250 employees) have been exempt from the “tax” since the measure was first introduced 5 years ago, although some have decided to introduce a charge on a voluntary basis.

As from the 21st of May (delayed from April) small businesses will no longer be exempt and the charge will double to 10p.

Bags charged for must be:
• Previously unused
• Plastic and 70 microns thick or less
• Have handles, an opening and is not sealed
NB You are not required to charge for bags that are “considered as sealed packaging for mail order and click-and-collect orders”.

The proceeds are not collected by the government and instead businesses are encouraged to donate the monies collected to good causes. The government asks larger retailers to keep records and report each year on what they do with the money. The government then publishes an annual summary of how many bags have been sold, and the quantity of plastic saved from contaminating the environment, as well as how much money has been donated to worthwhile causes.
Small businesses are exempt from the record -keeping and reporting requirement but if you do wish to donate to local causes an easy and efficient way to keep track is add a carrier bag button to your till.
There is also an exemption for bags only containing raw foods, including meat/meat products, whether already wrapped or not, in recognition of the food safety risk.
There is currently no exemption for biodegradable bags due to technical difficulties of measuring the actual biodegrade ability of different materials. Arrangements in Wales remain unchanged.


Beef Eating Quality Project Survey

NCB Members

We are asking you to participate in an important survey concerning beef production.

The purpose of the survey is to provide the BeefQ - Beef Eating Quality project with an understanding of the wider beef industry's current perception of beef eating quality and the desire for a shift from current methods of valuing beef to one based on predicted eating quality, how this could be implemented in practice, and the barriers perceived in doing so.

The BeefQ project is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development through the Welsh Government, to develop and test a beef eating quality prediction system for Wales.  The eating quality potential of cattle is determined at conception and maintaining that potential to ensure delivery of a consistent, quality beef eating experience to consumers, involves everyone subsequently involved in the beef supply chain. 

The BeefQ project has been working with industry partners to develop a system to predict the eating quality of beef during processing – this information, as demonstrated very successfully in countries such as Australia, can be used to guarantee a specific eating quality experience to consumers and therefore build greater confidence in the product. 

The BeefQ project is now consulting with the broader beef industry to identify, if and how a beef eating quality prediction and reward system could be implemented in the UK. 

To contribute your views – please complete the following short survey by
30th April 2021.

A bi-monthly BeefQ Newsletter can also be viewed and subscribed to at:

BBC's Blue Peter drops meat free message

BBC’s Blue Peter has dramatically dropped its meat free message to children following a joint letter from AHDB, QMS and HCC.

National Craft Butchers entirely supported this stance from the levy bodies and are happy to see them speak for the industry and thousands of Butchers!

Read the joint letter here:

An open letter from AHDB, QMS and HCC in response to CBBC Blue Peter’s Green Badge campaign

he iconic BBC children’s TV show Blue Peter has asked viewers to become part of a ‘green army’ to tackle carbon emissions and climate change. Recommendations to earn a Green Badge include encouraging children to take the ‘Supersize Plants Pledge’ and replacing red meat dishes with “climate friendly” plant-based alternatives.

Citing phrases including “reducing the amount of meat you eat, especially beef and lamb, is known to be even better for the climate than reducing the amount you travel in a car”[1] is incorrect, misleading and based on widely-debunked data. This unbalanced reporting risks compromising the integrity of the red meat produced in the UK to the consumers of the future.

It is essential that young people learn and understand where their food comes from and its impact on the planet, and the Green Badge campaign presents an opportunity to share the fantastic credentials of the British red meat industry, which is amongst the most sustainable in the world and supports the livelihoods of thousands of people.

As a public service broadcaster, the BBC has a responsibility to provide an impartial argument. This is all the more important when communicating to children

Blue Peter also promotes the Carbon Calculator, a simplistic tool that cites global data not representative of the UK’s red meat industry.

Some of the fantastic initiatives happening right now in farms across the country include conducting regular carbon audits to manage and offset emissions; avoiding ploughing, drainage and over grazing; creating wildlife corridors along water margins, field margins and headlands, taking action to control soil and achieving net zero across the industry in England and Wales by 2040 and by 2045 in Scotland

The highest volume of CO2 is produced by the fossil fuel industries, with livestock farming contributing just 6% of the UK’s CO2 emissions[2]. Given this statistic, cutting your individual meat consumption would in fact not reduce the UK’s overall CO2 emissions nearly as significantly as structural changes in the energy and transport sectors such as encouraging families to walk, cycle and use public transport.

Furthermore, the minerals and vitamins found in red meat should form an important part of a growing young person’s diet. Iron from meat sources is more readily absorbed by the human body compared with iron found in other non-meat sources. A lack of iron may result in a deficiency, increasing the risk of anaemia. Severe iron deficiency may also increase the risk of developing complications to the heart and lungs.

As it stands, 42% of teenage girls fail to achieve the minimum iron intake and 22% of teenage girls don’t get enough zinc[3], which is essential in supporting a healthy immune system.

We would welcome the opportunity to share the positive messages from the red meat industry.  Sharing information with young people about the techniques and processes in place to make sure farming in the UK is not at the detriment to the wider environment is also essential in helping them form their own opinions and consumption habits. A good place to start is Farming Foodsteps, an online resource developed by professionals specifically for school-aged children which explores the red meat journey and includes sustainability and health messaging.

These stories must be shared, and we ask that the BBC and Blue Peter to reconsider their one-sided messaging and provide an opportunity for the heads of the UK’s red meat industry bodies to meet with the head of children’s programming to shed light on the positive messages.  

Yours faithfully,

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS)

Christine Watts, Chief Communications Officer of Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)

Gwyn Howells, Chief Executive of Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales (HCC

[1] The pitfalls of simplification when looking at greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, Thomson Reuters Foundation News, 2018

[2] CIEL, Integrated Report, 2020 -

[3] Iron and Health, Scientific Commission on Nutrition, 2010