Defra blunder leads to squeeze on cash

COUNTY chiefs have reacted with disappointment to news that vital funding for tackling animal diseases has been lost due to a government blunder.Suffolk County Council's animal health team is facing a spending cut of up to 12 per cent because of a shortfall of more than £1 million between what councils in the UK were promised and the cash available, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (Lacors) said.

COUNTY chiefs have reacted with disappointment to news that vital funding for tackling animal diseases has been lost due to a government blunder.

Suffolk County Council's animal health team is facing a spending cut of up to 12 per cent because of a shortfall of more than £1 million between what councils in the UK were promised and the cash available, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (Lacors) said.

Joanna Spicer, responsible for public protection at Suffolk County Council, said the cost to the authority of the blunder is £15,000 in addition to £29,000 already owed to the council.

She said the shortfall will not affect the way animal diseases are tackled but could affect trading standards areas including work such as cracking down on underage alcohol sales or the sale of fake goods.


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A spokesman for the council said: “This means that there is more pressure on our budget even though we have been in the front line on two animal diseases in the last year.

“It's once again an example of where we are being squeezed by central government funding.”

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Lacors, whose work includes overseeing local authority animal health services, said councils were promised a total of £9.77 million this financial year under a scheme set up to fight animal disease following the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.

But they have now been told only £8.5 million is available under the Animal Health and Welfare Framework Agreement, with the overspend the result of the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), losing track of how much it had allocated to individual councils, Lacors said.

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