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Audit Reports and Costs to the Taxpayer

 Added by  Sally
 21 Aug 2010, 8:02 PM

The Northern Ireland Audit Office 'The Control of Bovine Tuberculosis in Northern Ireland' dated 18th March 2009, makes interesting reading www.niauditoffice.gov.uk/pubs/bovine/Bovine_Final.pdf.
On page 74 under Conclusions and Recommendations
On the cost of compensation
5.28 The annual cost of compensation rose steadily from the mid-1990s and, while peaking at over £16 million in 2002-03, remains very substantial, at some three times the 1995 level.
In total, some £86 million compensation has been paid in the 10 years to March 2006. Despite concerns expressed within the Department that a change in compensation rate, from 75% to 100% of market value, would make having a reactor more desirable and increase the temptation to ‘invent’ or import reactors, the higher rate was introduced in 1998. It is notable that the move to 100% compensation coincided with a substantial increase in the number of reactors. We note the Department’s comments that there are many factors which could cause a rise in bTB incidence; the change in compensation levels at this time may or may not have been a contributing factor.

'Extended cull will come at a cost' is the title of the article in the 'Western Daily Press' reporting the comments of the Glos police and crime commissioner, Martin Surl, on Monday. Whilst making it clear regarding impartiality he does say the following about extending the cull:
'Imagine if you were playing for England in that crucial World Cup qualifier and just after you scored the second goal the referee said "we'll play another hour and a half to give Poland more chance?" There would be outrage in the stadium and the players would be out on their feet.'
'Is the principle of extending the cull by eight weeks so very different? After all, it is longer than the original pilot. And if another eight weeks are necessary in Gloucestershire, why do they need so much less time in Somerset? This was a pilot which Natural England said would run over four years. Would it not have been wiser to go away, analyse what worked and what didn't and make the necessary adjustments next year in the second phase?'
'Now the cull in Gloucestershire will extend to the week before Christmas and although my Chief Constable tries to assure me it will not affect normal policing in the county, there will be implications on the budget.
The Home Office says it will reimburse any extra costs incurred by the cull but the money will still come from the taxpayer one way or another. Was it expecting too much for Natural England and Defra to have sought the views of either myself or the police before reaching their decision?'
This is Glos (http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Patience-run-Gloucestershire-extended-badger-cull/story-19983852-detail/story.html?dm_i=1NFN,1XMD7,906LDO,6Y1MG,1#!) reports that patience may run out on both sides of the debate in the badger cull, and disorder may result from the cull’s extension in Gloucestershire.
That’s the concern of Martin Surl, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the man who sets the policy for Gloucestershire Police.
Natural England, which licensed the original six-week trial cull which ended this month, has allowed another eight weeks for shooters to try and kill up to 940 badgers in the west of the county, until December 18.
Mr Surl had previously expressed concerns that the cull would lead to an unacceptable burden on police in the county. Yesterday, he said: "My views on a cull extension have been widely reported and led to criticism from two local MPs. It doesn’t alter my primary concern that prolonging the exercise will test the patience and good will shown so far by all sides to the detriment of those communities where it is taking place.
“The cull is an issue which has divided the country. Managing it has been a delicate operation with the full cost still to be worked out, but thanks to the skill and professionalism of the police and the understanding and good sense shown on all sides, we have got this far without many people’s worst fears with regard to public safety being realised.“
The total police costs are not yet know but it is inevitable that with the current extension they will escalate further - the police costs are being paid for by the taxpayer.
Police costs for the badger cull are said to be spiralling out of control. Police and crime commissioner Martin Surl has said the figure is about £1million, twice the original estimate.
Read more: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Badger-cull-campaigners-fear-countryside-free/story-19938059-detail/story.html#ixzz2i3pA1...
Policing costs of the trial culls in Glos and Somerset are being paid for from public funds,
Policing costs alone are estimated to be £1,000 per badger although free-shooting was promoted as being the cheapest option – why aren’t the landowners required to pick up this bill rather than the taxpayer? Police resources have been drafted in from other areas – it is not known how that has affected those areas or at what cost.
Simultaneously with the news of the extended licence period for Somerset, a substantial number of additional cages were delivered to the area – if cage trapping is being used as a fail-safe method of executing badgers, why can’t they be vaccinated instead?
David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust said: “David Cameron and his Ministers ignore the best scientific evidence and pursue their own agenda. Defra should immediately admit failure of these trials on the grounds of cost and efficacy, the humaneness remains deeply buried in a cloak of secrecy.
More public money to be wasted on farcical badger culling and police costs of the culls are extended?
According to a local Glos paper ((http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/10727795._/) GLOUCESTERSHIRE Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl has expressed his concern about the possible extension of the pilot badger cull in the county. In a statement released today, Wednesday, he said: "I was disappointed when I heard Owen Paterson's statement to the House of Commons earlier today.
In a statement released today, Wednesday, he said: "I was disappointed when I heard Owen Paterson's statement to the House of Commons earlier today.
"I know we have to wait for an announcement from Defra about any plans for Gloucestershire but I have made my concerns and unease at any possible extension known to the Home Office today.
"I have to consider and ensure safe and sustainable communities in Gloucestershire.
"I am committed to less crime, more peace and good order and any extension to what has been such a divisive issue in the county is certainly not going to help us achieve that."
70 minutes of what is described in the video as 'police harassment' in the area of the current culls. What a waste of police time. What would this be costing and is it taking officers away from other work in their areas? Is the crime rate going to go up in the cull areas as a result of the police concentrating on what is claimed, in this video to be 'harassment'?

Why are the supermarkets keeping so schtum about the badger cull? A thought provoking article in the Independent at:/www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-are-the-supermarkets-keeping-so-schtum-about-the-badger-cull-8806637.html
According to The Times, the badger culls could be extended if marksmen fail to kill enough animals in the planned six-week period, under a Government contingency plan to ensure the trials are completed.
The possibility of prolonging the culls emerged as reports claimed that the one in Somerset had fallen behind schedule, with fewer than 100 badgers killed in the first ten days. Any extension would add to the £4 million estimated bill for policing the two culls.
ANOTHER 25 years to be TB free in England!
Yesterday the Government launched its bovine TB eradication strategy with the aim of England becoming TB free within 25 years - so farmers have to wait again.
You can comment as the consultation stage runs from 4 Jul 2013 to 26 Sep 2013. See all the questions by just keying ''next'' without answering as you go along.
The strategy sets out action in areas such as disease surveillance, pre- and post-movement cattle testing, removal of cattle exposed to bTB, tracing the potential source of infection and wildlife controls including culling and vaccination trials. It also focuses on the development of new techniques such as badger and cattle vaccines and new diagnostic tests that could one day offer new ways of tackling the disease.

Parliamentary Questions -
Cost of badger cull - 26 June 13
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the total cost including policing of the badger cull programme for each badger killed. [161648]
Mr Heath: The badger control policy is based on a cost-sharing approach with the farming industry. The industry will be responsible for the operational costs of delivering culling and DEFRA will bear the costs of licensing, monitoring and policing the policy. The costs to Government for a typical 350 km2 area over a period of four years as set out in the impact assessment are:
£0.4 million for licensing;
£0.7 million for monitoring;
£2 million for policing;
£0.1 million in relation to an increase in TB incidents in the neighbouring area.
We would expect these costs to be offset by savings as a result of reduced TB incidence within the control areas and in neighbouring areas, extending for five years beyond the culling period. The Government currently bears the majority of the cost of TB incidents by paying for TB testing and compensation for slaughtered animals.
(So much for no risk from perturbation from culling badgers !)
Recent analysis showed that rising police costs now meant the cull policy was more expensive than vaccinating badgers.
The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/13/badger-cull-activists-protests-police?dm_i=1NFN,1KQON,906LDO,5F2XS,1) has proven, in a lengthy and detailed article, just how much effort is being taken by the police to ensure safety. Police preparing for peaceful protests have carried out wargames with activists and the cullers to simulate confrontations.
According to Mary Creagh in her speech on 5 June 2013 in the Commons (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130605/debtext/130605-0001.htm#13060568000001):
'it has been over £300,000 for licensing activities carried out by Natural England, while sett monitoring has cost £750,000. An independent expert panel to monitor the cull has cost £17,000, and surveying the reserve site in Dorset will add to the total. Since April 2012, six DEFRA staff have been working on the cull. This cull has already cost the taxpayer well over £1 million—before it has even started.'
'What will be the costs to the taxpayer if the cull proceeds? The estimated cost of humaneness monitoring is £700,000, and badger post-mortems another £250,000. The policing costs for each cull area are put at £500,000 a year. There is a strong steer from the police that they will need to send armed officers to police any night-time demonstrations, taking up scarce police resources.'
'The Secretary of State said at the weekend that he wants to roll out a further 10 areas a year for the next two years. He, for one, has already made up his mind on the efficacy and humaneness of these so-called pilots. Assuming he gets his way, that is £5 million a year for the police alone. I think that the police costs are material -'
'because at a time when the police face 20% cuts, asking armed response vehicles to go out into the countryside will take further resources away from the cities, where there tends to be more gun crime, for example, than there is in the countryside. '
'The Government talk about the costs of TB, as did the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray), but in a parliamentary answer to me in September 2011 the then farming Minister, the right hon. Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Sir James Paice), who is in his place, said that the cull would lead to five fewer herd breakdowns a year in each cull area. In 2010, there were more than 2,000 confirmed herd breakdowns in England. If the cull were rolled out with 10 cull areas a year, it would prevent just 50 herd breakdowns a year. The taxpayer costs of culling will not be recouped by a reduction in the costs of bovine TB, so this cull will go on being bad for taxpayers until Ministers cancel it.'
'The UK’s top badger expert. Professor Rosie Woodroffe, has analysed the numbers. The Government estimate that badger vaccination would cost £2,250 and that the cull will cost £1,000 per square kilometre per year, so at first sight the cull is cheaper than vaccinating. However, when the Government’s estimate of the cost of policing the cull—£1,429 per square kilometre per year—is added, vaccination becomes the cheaper option. What a pity for farmers that DEFRA Ministers cancelled five of Labour’s six badger vaccination trials. Early results from the remaining site near Stroud show a 79% reduction in TB transmission to unvaccinated badger cubs, which means that they are almost certainly less infectious to cattle and to other badgers. Two or three years of vaccination would give badgers full immunity as the old badgers died off.'

The two trial badger culls could start any day now. The free shooting method has been adopted because cage trapping and then shooting is said to be more than 10 times more expensive. The actual culling costs are being borne by the farmers involved, who have entered into bonds. However, public money will have to be set aside to continue the culling for the four year period if anything goes wrong and the farmers cannot continue to fund. The amount and risks involved are not yet known.

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Vaccination against bovine TB Second Report of Session 2013–14 has been published today. Comments and extracts are included in the forum topics below:
Let's discuss the BCG vaccine
The Skin Test
Wildlife Reservoirs, is the badger a costly distraction, a scapegoat...?
In the report there is a reference to the huge sum the UK receives for its bovine TB policy - it is no wonder there is little hope of any change in policy:
'The highest financial contribution from the EU budget to eradicate animal disease (€31m out of €203m) goes to the UK for its bovine TB eradication programme.'

The Independent has come out against the cull (www.independent.co.uk/voices/editorials/editorial-these-badger-culls-represent-the-triumph-of-politics-over-science-8638306. html?dm_i=1NFN,1J6UG,906LDO,58FSK,1). In its editorial today under the heading, 'These badger culls represent the triumph of politics over science' it says:
"Historically, this newspaper took the view that the risks from bovine TB were so great, and the link to badgers so clear, that a cull, while regrettable, was necessary. Subsequently, however, scientist after eminent scientist has concluded that there is little hard research to justify the decimation of badger populations, which is also passionately opposed by animal lovers. In fact, for all the sound and fury in favour of a cull, Lord Krebs, the eminent Oxford zoologist who conducted the last detailed review of the practice, is just one of an array of experts who have denounced it."
"Neither is there a clear-cut economic case for going ahead with a cull. One recent assessment, for example, found that for every 150km² plot of land where badger-culling takes place, the total costs – including the policing required to deter protesters – come to more than £1.5m. Meanwhile, the savings in terms of TB prevention in cattle amount to only about £970,000. Hardly the best use of all-too-scarce public money."
Police forces in south-west England fear the cost of ensuring the cull can proceed will be higher than originally anticipated (www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/10080626/4-million-bill-and-rising-to-police-badger-cull.html).
New estimates in Whitehall suggest that the cull, due to start on June 1, will cost £4 million to police, which comes on top of the £1 million already spent on last summer’s aborted culling trials.
But, with animal-rights activists planning to trespass on land where the night-time cull is taking place and set up illegal protest camps, senior officials fear the bill is likely to rise.
Police face the prospect of having to keep the peace between militants determined to disrupt the cull and the marksmen, with high powered guns, hired to carry out the killings.
Plans are in place to call on police officers from neighbouring counties and, possibly, private security companies to help maintain order.
Privately, senior officers have described the prospect of widespread protests against the cull as “a nightmare”.
Richard Berry, the assistant chief constable of Gloucestershire, said: “We will deliver our statutory responsibilities, which include dealing with any incidents of crime and disorder and ensuring that anyone who wishes to protest peacefully and lawfully is able to do so.”
The forces will be reimbursed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the cost of policing the cull after it has been completed.
The Control of Bovine Tuberculosis in Northern Ireland
This report, Northern Ireland Audit Office, was published in 2009 but contains some very interesting information about the 'imperfect' skin test, revealing many incidents when it was not carried out properly.
Bovine TB testing procedures (Part 2 of the Report)
• the limitations of the Bovine TB Skin Test in detecting infected animals
• the cost of testing carried out by Private Veterinary Practitioners (PVPs)
• the quality of work being carried out by a number of PVPs • Departmental supervision of PVP testing
• disciplinary action against PVPs who breach procedures
Compensation, enforcement and tackling fraud (Part 5 of the Report)
• the cost of compensation
• compensation valuations
• enforcement of the legislation
• tackling fraud.

In Ireland €3.4 million has been spent culling 7000 badgers in 2012. This has apparently reduced bovine reactor numbers by 55 so the cost is €61,000/cow!
Seems police forces in Glos and Somerset, venues for infamous cull purported to be starting in June, have no money to 'police' the culls. There seems to be massive public opposition to the proposed shooting of badgers so once it starts and there are protests - and guns - not an enviable task for the police. Could be a massive costs - again - for the public purse.
There are reports that senior police officers have told the Government it will have to draft in private security companies to stop the planned badger culls being overrun by animal rights activists. The two forces involved believe the operation will be a “nightmare” and have told civil servants at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that they do not have the manpower to cope.
The cost to the Government of the abandoned badger culls in the West was yesterday put at £1.15 million, as renewed demands to call off future culls were rejected in the House of Lords.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister, Lord de Mauley, confirmed that culling would be piloted initially in two areas next summer. He added that there had been £750,000 on surveying costs, £300,000 on Natural England’s costs and £95,000 on 'humaneness monitoring' in the period leading up to the postponement in October of trial culls in West Somerset and Gloucestershire
Information from www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Abandoned-badger-culls-cost-Government-1-15/story-17566318-detail/story.html
Liberal Democrat Lord Greaves asked how much the aborted culls had cost and who was going to pay.
Lord de Mauley said there had been £750,000 spent on surveying costs, £300,000 on Natural England's costs and £95,000 on "humaneness monitoring".
Baroness Jan Royall of Blaisdon in the Forest of Dean, and Labour leader in the Lords, said: "My party still believes there is no scientific, economic or moral basis for culling."
She asked what the cost would be of a more intensive cull and if ministers were confident of recruiting enough marksmen.
Lord de Mauley said the cost of "not bearing down on TB" by controlling the badger population was £90 million a year and rising.
Info from: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/story-17558268-detail/story.html
According to a report in This is Cormwall (http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Badger-cull-delay-cost-pound-80-000-police-try/story-17370343-detail/story.html) police forces have claimed tens of thousands of pounds for planning security around badger culls which were later postponed.
Chief officers drew up plans for preventing trouble amid fears animal rights activists would clash with licensed gunmen targeting the creatures under the Government's bid to rid the countryside of bovine tuberculosis.
Police forces can ask for extra Home Office cash to police events outside their normal duties.
Home Office Minister Damian Green last night revealed the cull delay could cost taxpayers at least £80,000 as force top officers try to recoup their costs.
Mr Green sad: "The police forces have made special grant applications in respect of the planning costs incurred by them before the cull was postponed.
"We have received claims from two of the four police forces that were involved in the planning process. The claims total £80,000. These claims are currently being considered by the Home Office, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Defra and a decision will be made in due course."
Mr Green revealed the figure following a written Commons question from shadow Home Office minister Diana Johnson.
The Tory minister said he expected the forces to make separate special grant pleas for planning and operational costs when the cull goes ahead next year.
He added: "Any payments made by the Home Office will be reimbursed by Defra.
"We do not yet have estimated costs for the operation that will take place in 2013."
ec.europa.eu/food/fvo/act_getPDFannx.cfm?ANX_ ID=6599
This is the EU audit paper for 2011 and the response from DEFRA. Included are some interesting data and critisms. For example over 1000 cattle per year are being found with gross lesions in abattoirs from herds that are under no restrictions (i.e. have clear tests)....
There also problems with the gINF test, biosecurity etc.
According to a report in the Telegraph on 11 November at www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9667998/Giving-badgers-TB-vaccine-could-avoid-cull.html) figures show the badger cull has already cost the taxpayer more than £1m and the burden on public finances is likely to spike to at least £5m if the controversial policy goes ahead next year.
Figures released on 19 October 2012 by Defra show the 'alleged' benefits to farmers of culling badgers to be £3.68 million (and actually they don't really know if there will be any benefit), while the costs are £4.56 million – not including the bill for policing, estimated at £4 million over four years.

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