Cuts hitting pest control services
Wednesday 2nd October 2013, 12:11AM BST.
Government austerity measures and local authority cuts are having an adverse effects on pest control services, according to a public health organisation.
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) said such services are under threat from future cutbacks, and in most cases these cuts have already been felt in terms of pest control staffing and services – all of which could have a knock-on effect on response times, infestations and control, it said.
The second BPCA survey, for 2012, found 15% of local authorities had decided to discontinue services due to austerity measures and changes to local authority financial models – a 3.5% increase on the previous results.
It also found there was a drop in the number of public health pest control call-outs last year compared with 2011 – down 8.86 per 1,000 people, compared with 9.92 the previous year. The BPCA said this was p ossibly due to local authorities having to charge for services that were previously free.
Simon Forrester, chief executive at the BPCA, said he was concerned about reductions in public health budgets.
He said: “Local authorities are under immense strain to come up with savings, but the BPCA wants to make sure this doesn’t have an impact on public health.
“The BPCA is very keen to make sure short-term budget cuts don’t result in much higher overall costs down the line.”
Top spot in the “all pests” category went to the Corporation of the City of London, which received 40.54 call-outs per 1,000 residents, although the corporation also provides services to residents outside its boundaries.
Birmingham City Council (31.67 call-outs per 1,000 residents) was second, ahead of South Staffordshire, South Tyneside and Sunderland. Knowsley, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Rhondda-Cynon-Taff, Clackmannanshire and Middlesbrough also featured in the top 10.
Birmingham City Council also headed the call-out table for rats, with 25.22 requests to deal with problems per 1,000 residents, just ahead of Blaenau Gwent and Bridgend.
The Corporation of the City of London (22.24 per 1,000 residents) received the most requests to deal with mice, ahead of the London Borough of Southwark (11.3). It also led the way in data sets covering bedbugs (ahead of Tower Hamlets) and those of other insects such as lice, fleas, flies, beetles and moths, beating Newcastle into second place.
The capital topped the call-out list per 1,000 people for cockroaches with Hackney taking first place, ahead of Southwark, Barking & Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets. South Staffordshire received the most service requests to deal with wasps, with 16.01 per 1,000 people, followed by Rutland with 13.43.
The not-for-profit BPCA sent Freedom of Information Act requests to all district, borough and unitary authorities asking for service demand figures for the 12 months to April 2012.
Mr Forrester said: “This is one of the most comprehensive studies of the demand placed on local authorities for pest control ever carried out and it covers a period when austerity measures were biting hard.
“Our second national survey provides incredibly valuable data and we can now refer to last year’s figures to plot trends, identify new threats and gauge how cutbacks are affecting such a vital public health service.
“There may be a number of local factors why certain areas feature so prominently at the top of some of these tables, but the BPCA is concerned that, on a national scale, pest control budgets are being cut.
“If an infestation isn’t dealt with quickly and properly, it will spread. Dealing with it then is much more expensive and carries a greater risk to public health.
“If a council outsources pest control services, it still has a duty of care to its residents and they need to make sure the companies they use are aware of the latest regulations and techniques.”
Local government minister Brandon Lewis said: “Pest control is a matter for councils. However, regular rubbish collections can help reduce instances. Under the last government weekly bin collections halved.
“This Government has saved the weekly bin collection for six million families and is working with councils to increase the frequency and quality of rubbish and recycling collections.
“In addition new housing standards will ensure developers create appropriate waste storage areas when designing new homes. This will reduce problems with vermin and tackle the ghastly gauntlet of bin-blighted streets and driveways.”