Any new administration will be assessing its priorities and the new legislative agenda. Animal welfare is a cross-party issue and continues to be an important issue for the general public.
Animal welfare is now almost entirely devolved to the four administrations. As a result most of the decisions made in Westminster will only impact on England though many of the issues and standards set are similar. Whilst the UK likes to see itself as being at the forefront of improving animal welfare, in some areas such as the use of wild animals in circuses, this claim is looking outdated. Balanced against this is the erroneous perception that improving animal welfare standards in the UK will have a detrimental impact on the UK’s competitiveness or merely export the relevant industry overseas. Additionally the overpopulation of dogs and horses and the impact on wider social issues raises its head on a regular basis.
As animal welfare service providers, local authorities play a significant role in the delivery through enforcement, licensing of pet establishments, provision of stray dog care and certain elements of trading standards. A new Government must enable councils in England to deliver animal welfare services at the highest possible standard adhering to the best practice available. Finding a sustainable funding stream to ensure sufficient resources are available at a local level will be key. There is no new money for this so innovative ideas need to be considered to ensure this can happen.
The RSPCA supports the work of local government officers and indeed celebrates good practice in a range of fields through its Community Animal Welfare Footprints. A future Government could make a significant difference in helping to share the good practice through its own coordinated communications.
So whilst animal welfare issues are now essentially devolved the RSPCA recognises the opportunity to achieve a commitment from the incoming UK Government for making improvements on non-devolved issues and for improving the standards in England for those issues that are devolved. The RSPCA has developed animal welfare policy challenges with solutions that the a new Government can adopt. More information is available here.