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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.

www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla/2012/01/27/ending-of-licensing-of-cattle-onto-otf-w-premises-prior-to-completion-of- first-short-interval- test/
Following an audit last autumn the European Union are not happy with AHVLA's licensing of cattle movements onto restricted farms. The European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), (responsible for ensuring that Community legislation on food safety and animal health and welfare is properly implemented and enforced), the decision has been taken to end this arrangement with immediate effect as it fails to comply with the requirements of EU legislation for TB eradication.
This means that following a new confirmed breakdown, no movements of cattle can take place until the reactor(s) have been taken and then a further test completed after 60 days. Should that test still reveal reactors or IRs, then licensing may be applied for, but cattle coming onto the holding must be isolated.
... and according to the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-16983519) Bovine TB data is STILL not being published due to computer problem. Problems that have been ongoing since autumn 2011. I wonder how much all this is costing the taxpayer? Since then no data on the number of cattle with bovine TB or their location has been issued by the government. There have also been backlogs in TB testing on some farms.
This means that as preparations begin for a cull of badgers to control the disease there is no up-to-date information available on the spread and incidence of bovine TB for the past four months. Apparently Animal Health and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) based in Worcester said the problem should not affect the cull but it cannot say when the data will finally be released.
In a statement, the AHVLA said it has no time frame for when the statistics will be published and that it is "working closely with its IT supplier and with Defra statisticians to resolve the issues".

The recent news confirming that the Badger Trust has given DEFRA notice of legal challenge is hardly surprising. How much is this going to cost the taxpayer (and the farmer)?
The Badger Trust has sent a letter to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs giving them notice of the grounds of challenge which the Badger Trust intends to pursue if DEFRA does not set aside its decision to kill badgers in its measures to eradicate bovine tuberculosis. DEFRA’s final position should be known by 17 February.
The Badger Trust’s present action follows extensive legal advice as well as correspondence with DEFRA Ministers and officials to clarify the Department’s position on many topics of concern. Officers of the Badger Trust have also had several discussions with Ministers in person before the decision was announced. Matters raised included what has been decided, what else remains to be decided, when, and the process of implementation.
In short, the Badger Badger Trust considers that:
1. the culls proposed will not meet the strict legal test of “preventing the spread of disease” in the areas being licensed, and may amount to a recipe for spreading the disease. Quite contrary to the aims in the strict test set down in section 10(2)(a) of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, DEFRA’s own evidence confirms that the proposed cull will in fact increase the spread of the disease in and around the cull zones. This is because a campaign of culling inevitably disrupts badgers’ normally stable social structures and causes them to roam further in search of food and territory, thereby prompting the spread of disease. Badgers outside the area culled are also likely to roam inward and take over the culled badgers setts. (This phenomenon is specific to badger ecology and social behaviour and is known as “perturbation”). Many cattle farmers in and around the cull zones are understandably very concerned about the risk that bovine TB will be spread onto their land as a result of the cull.
2. DEFRA’s cost impact assessment underpinning the decision is flawed because the cost assumptions are based on the free-shooting option which is assumed to be much cheaper. However, in correspondence with the Badger Trust, DEFRA recently confirmed that, if after the first year of piloting the plans, free-shooting is ruled out for being inhumane, ineffective or unsafe, then farmers will be legally obliged to continue the cull on a much more costly “trap and shoot” basis for the remaining years of their licence (and farmers will have to make a further upfront financial deposit on this basis plus a contingency sum of 25 per cent). These are significant cost risks for farmers but they are not properly reflected in the cost impact assessment which underpinned DEFRA’s decision. This may render the decision unlawful. (Farmers would be well advised to study the impact assessment which concludes that they will be out of pocket, even if free shooting were to be approved.)
3. the guidance which DEFRA issued to Natural England is invalid. The Secretary of State issued guidance to Natural England under section 15(2) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 as to how Natural England should exercise its functions. However, killing badgers is not in fact one of Natural England’s functions, which are mainly focussed on maintaining biodiversity. Even though DEFRA is making Natural England responsible for the administrative arrangements this does not mean that culling becomes one of Natural England’s functions. Therefore, the guidance was not correctly devised.
The so-called ‘trial’ badger culls are scheduled to take place later this year in two areas yet to be agreed. Most of the costs are supposed to be paid by the farmers but how much will they really cost the taxpayer? What are the implications of such culls for farmers? Will they result in a PR disaster for the farming industry with so much public opposition? Will the costs and effort be disproportionate? Will it lead to disorder, increased public spending on additional policing? Will it be safe? So many questions and the answers will not be known until too late.
Farm minister Jim Paice has admitted DEFRA will not be able to keep the location of the culls a secret from the public. He apparently spoke to journalists at the Oxford Farming Conference today and said that the government and its badger cull licensing body, Natural England, would not announce where the culls were being held but it was impossible to prevent the public from learning where the trials to shoot badgers would be held. “In the end the public will know,” he said. “I don’t deem it possible that once this gets under way that the grapevine will not work. It may seem tough, but farmers and landowners will have to take that into consideration when they sign up to take part in the trial.”
Shadow farm minister, Mary Creagh, has expressed concern about the costs of policing a cull: “Estimated police costs have already risen tenfold to £2m in each cull area over years,” she told reporters. “There are also discrepancies between DEFRA and the industry over how much it will cost to carry out the culls.”
Mrs Creagh said her biggest concern was that the police costs indicated that armed officers would be needed to patrol the countryside to protect farmers and people licensed to carry out culls.
The high (estimated) costs of policing the cull are more proof of just how disproportionate badger culling is re dealing with bTB.
http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/Badger-cull-plan-raises-issue-policing-costs/story-14179761-detail/story.html tells us 'CASH-STRAPPED Devon and Cornwall police face being saddled with a multi-million pound bill to keep the peace if a badger cull goes ahead in the county. It would put an added squeeze on the force's budget which is already being slashed, leading to cuts in officer numbers'.
Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said: "We now know why the Home Secretary warned Defra against the cull as the costs of policing each cull area are a staggering £2 million.
"Hard pressed police forces are already struggling to make the Tory-led Government's 20 per cent funding cuts which will mean 700 fewer officers in Devon and Cornwall over the next four years.
"We know that culling will take place at night, and could lead to extensive protests, which could well mean the involvement of specialist firearms officers.
"Local people will rightly be asking themselves if this is the best use of taxpayers' money and police officers in these tough times."
According to the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/18/culling-plan-good-for-ba_n_1017331.html the Coalition estimates policing the bager culls will cost £200,000 a year if plans to pilot badger culling in two areas in England, to test the "controlled shooting" of free-running badgers. go ahead.

Interesting paper from back in 2009 relating to Northern ireland. The Control of Bovine Tuberculosis in Northern IrelandREPORT BY THE COMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL NIA 92/08-09, 18 March 2009 available at http://www.bovinetb.info/docs/Bovine_Final.pdf
Of particular interest:
Re testing carried out by private vets or in-house staff:
'However, within the same ‘at risk’ type of bTB test, PVPs detected markedly fewer reactors than in-house staff who were almost twice as likely to classify a herd as a breakdown herd. '
... and on fraud:
'It is a matter of concern that two herd owners successfully prosecuted for fraud received a total of £6,400 compensation for subsequent bTB outbreaks.'

The Yorkshire Post (www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/country-view/farming/400_000_cost_of_consultation_on_badger_cull_1_3847981) has revealed that the consultation process on the proposed badger cull cost taxpayers more than £400,000. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that a total of £400,000 was spent between May 2010 and July 2011 on the issue, the money going primarily on staff costs and obtaining legal advice.
No external consultants were employed, however, to assist with the development of the policy.
The public consultation, which took place last autumn, received around 59,540 responses from around the country. The majority were against culling.
The Yorkshire Post revealed that Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman met with representatives of the farming industry groups such as the National Farmers Union (NFU) and Country Land and Business Association (CLA), RSPCA, RSPB, Badger Trust and Wildlife Trust.
According to recent media reports early Government estimates say it could cost up to £200,000 to police each culling zone if the proposed English cull proceeds. The National Wildlife Crime Unit has apparently warned of the risk of vigilante groups shooting badgers at will and animal welfare groups targeting farmers.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has said the Government could issue licences for up to 40 culling zones so costs could be significantly higher.
But a police officer group has warned the extra responsibility comes as forces are slashing front-line staff as budgets are scaled-back.
Dave James, secretary of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “There is very little detail at the moment about how Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, and other forces which may have trials in their area, will respond to the issues that will undoubtedly arise.
“It is a concern that the force, and the officers we represent, face a potentially unpredictable additional workload, when there is no guarantee that the costs of any operations will be reimbursed by Defra (the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). As Government policy, shouldn’t Government bear the costs, particularly during a period when Devon and Cornwall Constabulary is having to save nearly £50 million and losing 700 – one-in-five – officers.”
The department has indicated it will foot the added costs, but it has yet to calculate precisely how much they will be. A spokesman said: “The scale of extra policing needed if culling goes ahead will depend on how much illegal activity there is. We’re currently working on risks and costs with the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers.”
There could be other cost pressures at the same time as culling starts. The Metropolitan Police is taking the lead role in plans for the London Olympics, but officers from another 11 police forces have so far been drafted in.
Labour MP Mary Creagh, Shadow Environment Secretary, claimed the Government has refused to publish the advice it has received from the police about the public order implications.
She said: “The shooting of badgers will take place at night, putting extra overtime costs and pressure on the police to manage public safety in situations with live firearms.”
Info from http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Police-group-warns-rising-costs-associated-badger/story-13095684-detail/story.html
The following letter, by Professor Paul Torgerson, was published on page 540 of the Veterinary Record (http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/167/14/540.2.full.html) on October 2, 2010 regarding the cost-effectiveness of bovine TB control.
The major justifications of bovine tuberculosis (TB) control in the UK include protection of public health, protection of animal health and welfare, and reduction of the economic impact of bovine TB (Defra 2005). However, the elimination of bovine TB from the UK has proved elusive and the means of bovine TB control in the UK have been hotly debated. The latest government initiative will allow farmers to cull badgers despite the fact that badger culling is unlikely to be effective at controlling bovine TB (Donnelly and others 2006).
Investment in animal health and veterinary public health should be evidence-based. In a recent extensive review, Torgerson and Torgerson (2010) questioned the need for bovine TB control in its present form. We concluded that the threat to public health is negligible provided that milk continues to be pasteurised, as human infection with Mycobacterium bovis is primarily a foodborne disease. It was also clear that aerosol transmission from cattle to humans is extremely rare even when bovine TB is very common in cattle. We concluded that the present bovine TB programme is an extremely poor cost-effective measure in terms of public health protection, with perhaps over £3 million spent per disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) averted. In addition, it appears that the economic consequences to the livestock industry and taxpayer are largely expensive intervention costs, not direct disease costs. Very little evidence has been reported of direct animal health costs, which are needed to justify the benefits of this elimination programme in terms of agricultural economics.
Large investments in animal or public health could be more effectively targeted against other zoonotic diseases. For example, in the Netherlands, congenital toxoplasmosis results in approximately 2300 DALYs lost per annum (Kortbeek and others 2009). This suggests that, the burden of congenital toxoplasmosis in the UK could also be considerable. Much of this disease could be prevented by implementing a testing programme in the food chain and any meat from Toxoplasma-positive animals could be frozen, which effectively destroys the bradyzoites (Kijlstra and Jongert 2009).
The World Health Organization is undertaking a study of the global burden of foodborne disease (Stein and others 2007), which will indicate priority areas for resource allocation to control such diseases. Presently, the global burden of human tuberculosis caused by M bovis is unknown, but in the UK the burden is extremely low. Human bovine TB in the UK is unlikely to increase beyond a very small handful of cases provided that milk is pasteurized before consumption. And this is regardless of the numbers of infected bovids or badgers blighting the British countryside.
The UK Government, Defra and the veterinary profession frequently hide behind EU legislation as a justification for bovine TB control in its present form. However, derogations from EC legislation can be sought (for example, to allow cattle vaccination) and resources could be diverted into more rewarding areas of public health. Elimination of bovine TB in the UK using current measures is proving intractable, expensive and of negligible benefit to society.
P. R. Torgerson, Division of Epidemiology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurestrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland e-mail: ptorgerson@vetclinics.uzh.ch
DEFRA (2005) Government Strategic Framework for the Sustainable Control of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain. A sub-strategy of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain. Defra
DONNELLY, C. A., WOODROFFE, R., COX, D. R., BOURNE, F. J., CHEESEMAN, C. L., CLIFTON- HADLEY, R. S. & OTHERS (2006) Positive and negative effects of widespread badger culling on tuberculosis in cattle. Nature 439, 843-846
KIJLSTRA, A. & JONGERT, E. (2009) Toxoplasma-safe meat: close to reality? Trends in Parasitology 25, 18-22
KORTBEEK, L. M., HOFHUIS, A., NIJHUIS, C. D. M. & HAVELAAR, A. H. (2009) Congenital toxoplasmosis and DALYs in the Netherlands. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 104, 370-373
STEIN, C., KUCHENMÜLLER, T., HENDRICKX, S., PRÜSS-USTÜN, A., WOLFSON, L., ENGELS, D. & SCHLUNDT, J. (2007) The global burden of disease assessments – WHO is responsible? PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 1, e161
TORGERSON, P. R. & TORGERSON, D. J. (2010) Public health and bovine TB: what’s all the fuss about? Trends in Microbiology 18, 67-72 doi: 10.1136/vr.c5372
Email 15/4/10
In view of the huge amount of money spent on tackling this disease that you claim is a health and welfare issue for cattle and badgers, could you please confirm if any data is available with regards to the positive economic effects to animal health, given that the main costs are currently implementation expenditure.
Response 19/05/10
Thank you for your e-mail of 15 April 2010 sent to the bovine TB mailbox. Please accept out apologies for not replying sooner.
Trade of cattle within the European Union is solely possible by virtue of the fact that UK herds are attested and cattle traded are clear tested from unrestricted herds. Because of the long term bovine TB testing programme in Wales we intercept and remove infected animals long before they have the opportunity to develop severe clinical disease. Bovine TB is a slow, insidious disease with a long incubation period, although there are a few exceptions in heavily infected herds where cattle as young as unweaned calves can become unwell and die as a result of the disease. However, no official database exists that quantifies the numbers of clinically sick animals seen in the UK.
During the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in 2001 testing for bovine TB ceased for a period. The statistics for bovine TB reactors slaughtered before 2001 and after FMD, when testing recommenced, emphasise the sudden increase in infection that can arise as a result of suspension of the TB testing programme.
The following paper on the economics of bovine TB may be of interest:
Sheppard, A. & Turner, M. 2005, An Economic Impact Assessment of Bovine Tuberculosis in South West England, Centre for Rural Research, University of Exeter, 9.
If you would like more information about the bovine TB Eradication Programme, please visit the Welsh Assembly Government’s bovine TB webpages: www.wales.gov.uk/bovinetb or www.cymru.gov.uk/tbmewngwartheg
Yours sincerely
TB Team
Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer
On 8/6/10 the following email was sent to TB Team, Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer, WAG. A response has not yet been received and was chased on 1/12/10
Dear Mr Henderson
The University of Exeter TB report that you referred to (and provided copy) is really nothing about the economic losses caused by TB (such as decreased production, cost of treatment etc), but the economic consequences of implementing the control programme. You have clearly stated that it is not known how many animals are clinically affected by TB and that it is an insidious disease with a long incubation period. Perhaps the incubation period is so long that the average productive life of a diary cow is already over by the time she starts showing clinical signs (hence no data on clinical cases, and hence minimal productive losses)....?
As the eradication programme is so costly and presumably MUST now be fully justified, bearing in mind the huge public debt and imminent drastic cuts, please explain why the small minority of farmers who wish to export live animals or sell unpasteurised milk should not be allowed to undertake their own progamme and remain “attested” and leave the rest of the industry (the other 95%) to get on with business and control through vaccination and biosecurity?
Andy H (Guest)
What a lot of money all this is costing. See DEFRA http://ww2.defra.gov.uk/food-farm/animals/diseases/tb It says that bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an infectious disease of cattle. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which can also infect and cause TB in badgers, deer, goats, pigs, camelids (llamas and alpacas), dogs and cats, as well as many other mammals. Not much clinical disease in these animals and they are not all subject to all the routine testing cattle are!
It goes on to say, the risk of people contracting TB from cattle in Great Britain is currently considered very low. SO WHY ARE WE SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY ON THIS DISEASE. There are far greater priorities!
This site reveals huge costs of research.
Interesting post from Celia Thomas at www.meattradenewsdaily.co.uk/news/081110/wales___response_to_iain_mccarthy_on_wales_badger_cull_.aspx
I would like to point out the economics of the Welsh Cull.
Within the IAA area £12.9 million has been paid out in compensation since 2004. Using the best figures given, Elin Jones hopes to achieve a reduction of 28% this includes culling (22%) and apparently a further reduction due to the cattle measures now in place. 28% of £12.9 is £3.64 million. The cost of the cull without policing is set at £9 million. Good house keeping Elin! For a cull we don't want and regulations that could blight the area for an unlimited time!
'The Economics of Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle' report by University of Reading, Department of Agricultural and Food Economics
This report confirms that no estimate has been made of the current cost of bovine Tb in Great Britain. The cost of implementing the national Tb control programme in 1998 was £21.82 million (DEFRA). However, this does not include the cost of the control programme to farmers nor the losses caused by bovine Tb in Great Britain. This report aims to provide some figures.
In 2009-10, Bovine TB compensation payments in Wales amounted to £18.5 million. Over the past 5 years (2005-10) compensation payments have amounted £93.5m.
Bovine TB compensation levels in Wales are closely monitored by Welsh Assembly Government-appointed Monitor Valuers. This has ensured that despite there being no significant drop in the number of animals slaughtered due to bovine TB, there has been a significant drop in the value of compensation paid to farmers.
The average total payment of compensation had fallen for the seven consecutive months up until April 2010 from £1.9 million to £1.3 million per month.
The average payment for a pedigree animal has fallen from a peak in 2006 of just under £5,000 to a figure in April 2010 of just under £3,000. Pedigree animals account for around a third of the animals valued and just over half of the total payments.
The Badger Trust launched a legal challenge to the Welsh Assembly's Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 in November last year. A High Court Judge dismissed their challenge in April, but after a further hearing in July the Order was quashed by the Court of Appeal.
The Welsh Assembly Government has now published (http://wales.gov.uk/docs/drah/publications/100811btblegalcostsdocumenten.pdf) some information about the costs of the judicial review and appeal. It is claimed that the external egal costs for the two hearings are £57,446.6 (which sounds very reasonable when you consider this allegedly includes £20000 towards the Badger Trust's legal costs. The WAG report refers too to internal costs and draws attention to a previous disclosure log in response to Freedom of Information request which gives an estimate of the TB Team’s staff and non-staff costs for a complete year as £662,693.
The WAG document also contains a link to the site that publishes details of the contracts tendered and awarded ‘to deliver a series of functions associated with wildlife control in north Pembrokeshire for the purpose of dealing with and eradicating of bTB in the area…’ (https://www.sell2wales.co.uk/notices/display.html?NoticeId=21250). This gives an estimated final total value of the contracts as £6,723,226 excluding VAT. The contracts were awarded in 5 lots:-
1. Training related to trapping services for lots 2-4
2. Surveying and mapping
3. Containment and dispatch
4. Disposal
5. Population assessment
6. Audit and evaluation
Lot 3. Containment and dispatch received the highest number of tenders (9) – whilst Lot 6. Audit and evaluation received none.
However, the costs published do not appear take into account the indirect costs such as police, work and meetings by various organisations such as CCW, National Parks etc.


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