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Animal Health, Welfare Budgets Devolved

by 5m Editor
15 March 2011, at 4:46am

UK - England, Scotland and Wales will get their own budgets to prevent and tackle animal diseases, and look after animal welfare, UK Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice, announced yesterday.

Budgets will be devolved from 1 April 2011 and have been shared based on historic spending and animal numbers.

Animal Health and Welfare funding is spent primarily on preventing, controlling and eradicating exotic and endemic diseases, notably bovine TB, and ensuring high standards of animal welfare.

Jim Paice said: “England, Scotland and Wales have had policy responsibility for preventing and tackling animal diseases for a long time, so I have worked with my colleagues in the devolved administrations to ensure that each country will now have their own budget.

“We already work closely on our policies on animal health and welfare. We will work even closer to protect Great Britain from animal disease outbreaks and ensure the best welfare standards possible.”

Research and surveillance will continue to be centrally funded to maintain scientific capacity and capability in Great Britain. Each administration will identify their needs and jointly decide what research and surveillance to commission, and will work closely with Northern Ireland.

In the event of a disease outbreak, all countries will continue to work very closely together to ensure the most effective measures are taken across Britain.

NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement that Scotland’s share of the Animal Health and Welfare Budget is to be devolved, but has cautioned that it will take time for the relative merits of the deal to become clear.

The announcement should bring to an end the anomalous situation whereby the Scottish Government oversees animal health and welfare policy in Scotland but the UK Treasury still holds the purse strings, meaning that Scotland, which has a good record in this area, has effectively been operating with one hand behind its back, says NFU Scotland's President Nigel Miller.

The Scottish Government has announced that a fund of £21 million will be transferred to Scotland to pay for animal health; the fund will decline incrementally on an annual basis to £17.9 million in 2014. The next UK Spending Review, which takes place in 2015, will see this fund become part of Scotland’s general share of the UK budget.