Publishing the results of its latest annual national local authority pest survey undertaken via the Freedom of Information Act, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) forecasts that government spending cuts could spark an explosion in the UK pest population.
No doubt timed to coincide with the run-up to the election, the figures released on 24 April, will be picked-up by the regional press, but the survey also appeared in two items in the 26 April edition of The Sunday Times. If you subscribe to the Sunday Times online the feature article can be read here. The news story in the main part of the paper is reproduced below.
Quick off the mark, two papers in the North East have already covered this news: the Chronicle and the Hartlepool Mail. These are likely to be highly indicative of the coverage the results will achieve. The assistant city mayor in Leicester, Sarah Russell, explained in the Leicester Mercury that she felt many councils under-reported their pest incidents – a sentiment likely to be expressed by other councils.
In their press release BPCA states:
And the industry’s leading trade body is warning that has the potential to prompt a significant increase in pests, including rats and bedbugs. Simon Forrester, chief executive of the British Pest Control Association, believes pest numbers across the UK have increased significantly in that time and fears the problem is likely to get worse.
He said: “Four years of austerity measures have left local authorities under immense pressure to come up with savings and a number of public services have been cut as a result.
“A growing number of authorities who once provided pest control free of charge have either introduced charges or done away with their service altogether in a bid to balance the books.
“That has already had a significant impact on the pest population because numbers are higher than ever and, if cuts continue, the problem is likely to get much worse.
“It’s posing a big risk to public health and we’re worried that short-term budget cuts will result in higher overall costs down the line.”
A total of 679,110 pest treatments were carried out by local authorities in 2010/11. But that figure dropped to 501,595 in 2013/14.
The number of councils offering a pest control service – either in-house or sub-contracted – declined by four per cent last year alone. The not-for-profit BPCA says it’s a policy which has created big problems, particularly in low-income areas.
Mr Forrester added: “The cost of professional treatments, either through the local authority or the private sector, can be prohibitive when people are struggling to make ends meet.
“But if residents try to deal with issues themselves, or bring in unqualified controllers because they’re cheap, infestations can quickly get out of hand.”
The Sunday Times 26 April 2015