BVA react to Defra cuts

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has expressed relief at the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review, which was announced on Wednesday 26 November. 

In the statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) would experience an operating cut of 15%.

“In recent years we have already seen the impact of significant cuts to Defra’s budget on veterinary feed for TB testing and other OV [official veterinarian] services and on disease surveillance, so further cuts are of concern, although we are pleased they are not as severe as originally forecast,” said BVA president Sean Wensley.

It was initially believed that Defra would be facing cuts of 30% – double those unveiled.

“We welcome the government’s announcement that spending on animal and plant health will be prioritised, particularly the continued commitment to implement the comprehensive TB eradication strategy. We also welcome the capital investment in Defra’s science estates and equipment in order to enhance national disease outbreak response capabilities, which we hope will help support vets in the vital frontline role they play day-in day-out on the ground.”

Despite being widely welcome, Wensley did reveal some concern: “However, animal welfare was noticeably absent from the announcement, and BVA will continue to press Defra to ensure animal welfare policy and research remain a priority.”

Meanwhile, Liz Truss, Environment Secretary, has said the announcement now means they can begin planning for the future. “This strong funding settlement means we can press ahead with our vital work to protect the country from floods and animal and plant disease, put in place stronger protections for our natural landscape and deliver on our commitments for a cleaner, healthier environment which benefits people and the economy.”

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