Latest news from British Pest Control Association

31 May 2022

Benefit in focus: Lobbying and public affairs

Your Association | PPC107 June 2022

It’s probably not a benefit you think about every day, but it is one of the most crucial tasks your membership fees help fund.

What is lobbying? How does it work? And what is BPCA doing to promote meaningful change in the pest management sector?

Benefit in Focus lobbying and public affairs

Engaging with politicians might not sound like a great way to spend your day, but as a trade association, that is exactly what we were designed to do. After all, we’re the voice of our members.

Governments appreciate trade associations because we’re the single voice of the hundreds of members we represent.

Political engagement has quadrupled over time since devolution, and different pieces of legislation and regulation are now controlled in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast rather than just London.

BPCA represents its members in all four Parliaments and Assemblies of the UK, plus their relevant Civil Service departments eg Defra, Daera and their Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB) such as Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot and HSE.

BPCA monitors political activity across the UK. We answer consultations and direct questions from politicians and departments to help dispel any misconceptions and ensure public health is well represented.

We also meet with politicians in person, host pest-related events and generally build deep connections with the sector.

What we’ve done so far

Lobbying has never been so high on BPCA’s agenda – and rightfully so, given how much pest management has been in the spotlight for the last few years. Recently we’ve:

  • Held parliamentary events at Holyrood and Westminster
  • Met the Ministers for Housing, Small Business, the Home Office, Pacific and the Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • Met with MPs and members of the House of Lords
  • Sent hundreds of introductory letters to MPs, MSPs, MLAs, MSs and Ministers in Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff
  • Sent briefing notes on various pest-related issues to those debating the Glue Traps (Offences) Bill
  • Replied to several national and European consultations on behalf of members
  • Met with senior civil servants in all four nations and have productive ongoing relationships with senior leaders in the NDPBs
  • Sat on the Cleaning and Hygiene All-Party Parliamentary Group in Westminster and the Cross-Party Group on Animal Welfare in Scotland.

Big wins

Key workers
BPCA campaigned for pest professionals to be considered key workers in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the UK, Northern Irish and Scottish Governments confirmed pest professionals as essential workers. 

Glue boards
BPCA fiercely defended the use of glue boards for professional users. BPCA gave evidence in the Scottish Parliament. We campaigned to amend the Glue Traps (Offences) Bill to include a licensing scheme. The Bill was amended as a direct result of our arguments. 

Bird control licences
BPCA has worked with Natural England, Defra and Nature.Scot to ensure bird management licences are fit for purpose. We continue to work closely with Daera and NRW to ensure their consultations produce a viable licensing regime.

Without lobbying in our sector, we’re left to the whims of those who don’t have our interests at heart. Someone needs to stand up for public health and good pest management. If it’s not us, who will? 

British Pest Control Association

Why bother?

Governments control much of what and how we do things. While many of laws we observe are pretty old, the animal welfare lobby is loud and well-supported, so we have to fight for our toolkit in order to protect public health.

New laws are introduced, old ones are amended. We have to keep on top of what’s happening and make the sector’s voice heard.

Without lobbying in our sector, we’re left to the whims of those who don’t have our interests at heart. 

Someone needs to stand up for public health and good pest management. If it’s not us, who will? 

While we might be a relatively small sector, we have a huge impact on society. Together, with one big loud voice, we can make a difference.

BPCA 80th anniversary celebrations in Westminster

Lobbying and public affairs Gemma Sutherland BPCA member in westminster

On 16 March, BPCA held a celebration in the Churchill Room of the House of Commons, hosted by Nigel Mills MP.

BPCA members were invited by ballot and some special guests from associated industries. Several MPs and the Minister for Small Business, Paul Scully, heard short speeches.

BPCA President Philip Halpin gave us a whistlestop tour of the 80 years BPCA has helped protect public health. He said:  “There will be times when some misunderstand our purpose or don’t want to listen to us.

"But if our 80-year history teaches us anything, it is this: BPCA members are the voice of professional pest control. Together we’ll speak against the destruction, misery and disease pests cause. Between us all, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.”

I’ve learned that this job requires a great deal of integrity and respect when dealing with animals and customers.

Gemma Sutherland, Pest Solutions

BPCA Chief Exec Ian Andrew talked of the challenges we face today, saying: “I have one request of our elected officials that sit and debate our profession in this palace: by all means, hold us to account for any animal welfare concerns, but don’t let this get in the way of us protecting your constituents and our clients.

“Remember, every method of control - however harmful it may be to the pests – is only used to protect public health. Our greatest challenge right now is the swing of the pendulum. The more it swings in favour of animal welfare, the more it swings away from protecting public health.”

Gemma Sutherland, a graduate service technician at BPCA member company Pest Solutions, spoke about her hopes for the future of pest management.

She said: “I’ve learned that this job requires a great deal of integrity and respect when dealing with animals and customers. It is not a job for everyone, nor is it a job for a particular sex.

“I have confidence that as an industry we will continue to encourage and support diversity, shift public preconceptions and, in the near future, pest control will be a comfortable career choice for many young people and women like myself.”

Learn more or get involved?

Interested in engaging with your local politicians or just want to learn more about BPCA’s work in this area? Members can contact us to find out more and join our various committees that help dictate our public affairs agenda.

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