Animal Health and Welfare to be Compromised if Funding Ceases, Fears TSI
The current economic climate has prompted concerns amongst trading standards professionals in England and Wales over the future of direct funding from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The money received by trading standards since the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak could come under pressure next year as the government is likely to review all its spending budgets.
Since 2002 there has been no increase in funding for inflation or to take into account growing responsibilities - as a result local authorities are having to continually reassess their priorities, and consequently are having to either lower standards or dip into taxpayers money.
The Trading Standards Institute's lead officer for animal health and welfare, Jeremy Adams, said: "Clearly, we are in a much better position today than we were years ago when we received no direct funding - but we really need this to continue.
‘If I could have my wish I'd like to see the money increasing year on year instead of decreasing, as we are having to absorb more and more costs to maintain the service that we provide. The lack of financial security in this area makes it difficult for us to keep skilled staff and control the risk of another devastating disease outbreak.’
He said that current challenges included bringing tuberculosis in cattle, which is costing millions each year, under control, assisting local authorities with prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act, and improving accuracy of published guidance.
Mr Adams hoped that the current £8.5million funding from Defra would not become absorbed into Revenue Support Grants (RSG). He said: ‘The trouble with RSG is that the formula used to allocate the money means that big urban authorities get the biggest slice of the money - rural ones, where most of the animals are, get much less. Unless a formula can be found to ensure funding is fairly distributed to rural areas, the continuation of direct funding would be our preferred option.’
The current Defra consultation on creating an independent animal health body in England is another cause for concern to the lead officer, as he believes a division from animal welfare to be unhelpful. He said: ‘Animal health is intrinsically linked to animal welfare and we would not want to see these areas split into different bodies. This would further complicate both policy making and delivery.’
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office by phone on 08456 089 430 or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Animal Health budget is extensively covered in the May issue of TS Today, out 5 May.
The full Defra consultation document 'An Independent Body for Animal Health' can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/new-independent-body-ah/index.htm
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