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Animal Welfare: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 37956, tabled on 20 April 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that animal charities are able to continue working with animals during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

29 April 2020

I am very aware of the issues currently facing organisations in this sector with falls in income and pressure on staff. My department is in regular contact with the main bodies representing the sector, including the Canine and Feline Sector Group, the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes and the equine welfare charities to understand their position and offer advice.

The Government has supported the sector providing guidance which enables it to continue to operate within the current restrictions, available here: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/SiteAssets/SitePages/Home/CFSG%20Guidance%20for%20Pet%20Rescues.pdf.

We have also encouraged the sector to consider all the various financial support already announced by the Chancellor, and issued guidance for the charity sector which provides further information, available here:

www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-charity-sector.

Social enterprises such as community interest companies (CICs) and charitable zoos can benefit from the measures set out by the Chancellor to benefit small businesses. We are also exploring options for and giving advice to the sector on the possibility of assistance from the additional specific fund recently announced by the Chancellor to support charities. We have already announced, for zoos in severe financial distress, a Zoos Support Fund for licensed zoos in England. Zoos policy is devolved. Funding is being provided to the Devolved Administrations in line with the Barnett formula. Where a zoo is in severe financial distress and has fully explored and exhausted all other reasonable avenues to generate income and reduce costs, including the existing COVID-19 business support schemes, then they should approach Defra as quickly as possible. Defra has already written to all licensed zoos in England to make them aware of the COVID-19 support schemes available as well as the new Zoo Support Fund.

We have also exempted veterinary practices from having to close so that they continue to treat animals in need of veterinary attention and to help provide for their good welfare.