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Cliverton Shows Support to SOCKS

17th May 2021

At Cliverton, we have been only too aware of the difficulties faced by our kennel and cattery clients with 7 out of 8 owners reporting that their business has declined by 75% or more (Yehudai, 2021). With so much uncertainty in regards to travel in 2021, there is little hope that the sector will return to normal this year, meaning nearly 2 years of restricted business and loss of income.

Although the government provided an initial £10,000 business grant to most businesses during the national lockdown, less than 1 in 3 businesses received any further support. Those based in Scotland have also had no access to any further support with kennels and catteries being excluded from the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework for Business.

Kennels and catteries are categorized as retail businesses however while many retail stores have been able to remain open to supply essential items, the demand for boarding animals has plummeted due to travel restrictions. However as kennels and catteries have not been required to close, they are excluded from the support provided to non-essential retail and hospitality sector.

It is argued that the nature of animal boarding is much more aligned with the travel industry which has been provided with ongoing support throughout the Covid-19 restrictions. This led to a campaign being launched in 2020 calling for the UK government to support the kennel and cattery sector in line with the travel and hospitality sector. The Save Our Catteries & Kennels (SOCKS) petition gained nearly 24,000 signatures however the response from the government was not what the industry had hoped for, stating that there are are no plans to reconsider their classification.

The industry works hard to provide the best care for animals and works to strict regulations at a significant cost however due to the lack of support, many businesses may not be able to remain open following the pandemic. With the increased level of pet ownership over the last year, this will leave many pet owners without the option of boarding with reputable and regulated businesses once travel restrictions are lifted, and could give rise to unregulated low quality alternatives leading to concerns over animal welfare.

At Cliverton we arrange insurance for over 1200 kennels and catteries and felt it only right that we support the industry in any way we can. Cliverton’s director, Mark Briggs, recently wrote to our local MP Jerome Mayhew to bring the issue to his attention and highlighted the risk that without further support, these essential services will not be there in the numbers there were before. Mr Mayhew took on board our concerns and wrote to Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment.

Lord Goldsmith highlighted how important the industry is particularly for animal welfare and recognized how some businesses have be able to take animals in order to allow critical workers to work through the pandemic. Lord Goldsmith confirmed Defra’s commitment to engagement in the sector in order to understand the extent and long-term impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The industry are hoping the petition will continue to gain further signatures to reach the 100,000 required for the issue to be discussed in parliament. If you would like to add your signature to the petition please visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/560514 and you can keep up-to-date with the SOCKS campaign via their Facebook page.

Source: F & E Yehudai, Business Matters – Getting Our Act Together, Kennel and Cattery Management, April 2021.

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