The largest representative body for vets in the UK has written to the Government urging for veterinary practices to be covered in the scope of support measures for businesses affected by COVID-19.
In letters sent to key government departments and their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) calls for veterinary practices to be recognised as ‘business critical’ on account of the essential services they provide that protect animal health and welfare, public health and wellbeing.
On Tuesday (17 March), the Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350 billion package of measures including rates reliefs and grants to support retail and hospitality businesses affected by the coronavirus, and pledged to do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep these sectors afloat in the challenging times ahead.
However, veterinary practices have so far not been included in the scope for this support, despite the fact that they will also be entering a period of significant financial difficulty and continuing to provide vital care and treatment to animals while contending with staff shortages and reduced turnover.
BVA, which represents over 18,000 vets across the UK, has called for business rates reliefs that have already been announced for some businesses to be extended to veterinary practices, most of which are SMEs. Eligible businesses will receive 100% rates relief for a year in England and 75% in Scotland, with Wales and Northern Ireland expected to announce similar plans shortly.
Daniella Dos Santos, BVA President, said: “While BVA welcomes the scale of this response and the promise of an economic lifeline for many businesses, we are extremely concerned that these measures don’t currently extend to the veterinary profession.
“We are asking for an assurance from governments across the UK that veterinary practices will also be included in the scope for support and recognised as a business critical service. Veterinary practices make such a valuable contribution to health and wellbeing at the heart of communities, so they need to be offered the same safety net that other businesses have been promised in the unpredictable times ahead.”