Pest control cuts 'pose major problems'

Pic: Jason Snyder

CUTS to pest control services could pose a major threat to public health and could result in higher costs in the long term, an industry body has warned.

The British Pest Control Association said the number of pest control issues responded to by local authorities "plummeted" by 22% last year.

Research based on Freedom of Information responses from all but 26 of the 390 district, borough and unitary authorities in the UK shows staffing levels have fallen by a quarter since 2012, while response rates had dropped by a third.

Of the 292 local authorities still operating a pest control service, only 7% still offer it free of charge.

Dee Ward-Thompson, BPCA technical manager, said: "Many councils who once provided pest control free of charge have either introduced charges or done away with the service in a bid to balance the books.

"Our survey reveals many of those still providing pest control are responding to significantly fewer reports. It's largely down to a lack of resources and that's really quite alarming.

"Pests carry diseases and pose a significant threat to public health, but 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.

"However, an infestation is likely to spread if it isn't dealt with quickly and effectively. Treatments will then become more expensive and carry a greater risk."