The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urgently calling on the Government to extend the GB Energy Bill Relief and consider more support for already under-pressure veterinary practices to avoid serious implications for UK food safety and an animal welfare crisis.
In his letter to the Chancellor, BVA President Malcolm Morley called for the Government to extend the GB Energy Bill Relief for essential businesses such as veterinary practices beyond March 2023, as well as to consider further support measures for vet practices, such as additional relief on business rates and a reduction in VAT.
Many veterinary practices have already experienced sharp rises in energy costs. This, combined with increased costs for equipment and medicines, has placed more pressure on a profession which is already struggling because of workforce shortages.
The essential work of vets in relation to the food supply chain is at risk should vets be left unable to do their jobs and provide their vital services to the UK’s food safety standards.
Some pet owners are already starting to feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis with vets reporting increasing cases of animals with issues that could have been avoided as a result of owners making difficult decisions to delay seeking treatment due to financial pressures. There are fears this will only get worse should veterinary practices have to close or increase the cost of their essential services.
Malcolm said: “Vets play an essential role in monitoring and enhancing animal health and welfare, and food safety in UK agriculture, from the farm gate through to trade certification and border checks, as well as providing vital veterinary care for the nation’s pets. It is therefore essential to the UK economy, to our food supply chains, and to the health and wellbeing of our animals, that they are able to continue their work through the challenges we are currently facing.
“While we welcome the Chancellor’s announcement in the Growth Plan that the GB Energy Bill Relief Scheme will be in place for six months for non-domestic customers, we are extremely concerned that the subsequent increase in costs after this period will result in more practices being forced to close, further exacerbating the workforce shortages facing the profession, increasing the cost of veterinary services and having a devastating impact on the economy.
“With this in mind, we are urging the Government to extend the GB Energy Bill Relief for essential businesses, like veterinary practices, beyond March 2023. In addition, we are seeking the Chancellor’s urgent consideration of further support measures which may be provided to assist veterinary practices, such as additional relief on business rates and a reduction in VAT.”
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