The plea follows Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiling of a £350bn package of measures, including rates relief and grants to support retail and hospitality businesses affected by the coronavirus.
Veterinary practices have not yet been included in the “scope” for this support, despite the fact that they will “also be entering a period of significant financial difficulty”, while contending with staff shortages and reduced turnover.
In a letter to the government, BVA President Daniella Dos Santos asked for assurance from governments across the UK that veterinary practices would be included in the “scope for support”, and recognised as a business critical service.
She argued that veterinary practices make “such a valuable contribution to health and wellbeing at the heart of communities”, and must rightly be offered the same “safety net” that other businesses have been promised.
She has also called for business rates reliefs to be extended to veterinary practices, most of which are SMEs. Eligible businesses will receive 100% rates relief for a year in England and 75% in Scotland, with Wales and Northern Ireland expected to announce similar plans shortly.
Dos Santos said: “While BVA welcomes the scale of this response and the promise of an economic lifeline for many businesses, we are extremely concerned that these measures don’t currently extend to the veterinary profession.
“Veterinary practices are a mainstay in our communities providing a critical service to keep the UK’s pets healthy as well as supporting public health and wellbeing.”
She added: “With so many people self-isolating in the coming weeks and months, we can’t underestimate the important role that pets have to play in providing companionship and helping to boost their owners’ wellbeing.
“However, it is a sad fact that many practices may have no option but to close their doors for good if they aren’t eligible for the same support that’s rightly being rolled out to other businesses.”