Petition: Rates relief exclusion must end

With practices struggling to keep afloat the British Dental Association (BDA) has launched a petition calling on Government to extend the Covid-19 business rates relief to healthcare providers in England. 

To ease the financial burden on businesses forced to close temporarily as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic Chancellor Rishi Sunak offered business rates relief to businesses operating in the retail, hospitality, childcare, and leisure sectors. Healthcare providers remain excluded, and the BDA is working with professional bodies representing diverse groups from vets to therapists to address this gap. 

While dentists have resumed face to face care in England, most practices are now operating at a fraction of their pre-pandemic capacity. BDA Chair Mick Armstrong told the Commons Health and Social Care Committee that the combination of higher costs and lower patient numbers presented an ‘existential’ threat to the service. 

Only 8% of practices report they are confident in maintaining their financial sustainability under these conditions. The petition is available to sign here:

Armstrong said: “Dentists have returned to work in England, but the sky-high costs and low patient numbers leave the future of the service in doubt. Support that’s been missing during lockdown is needed now more than ever. With so many practitioners fearing for their futures, healthcare cannot remain excluded from rates relief.

“Rishi Sunak said he’d do ‘whatever it takes’ to protect the economy. Well, that has to include dentistry. We are not looking for special treatment. We just need the same support that’s been given to our neighbours on the high street. The government expanded relief to include betting shops. It’s ludicrous that dedicated health professionals are still not getting the help they need.”

Meanwhile Daniella Dos Santos, British Veterinary Association President, said: “Veterinary practices have remained open throughout this challenging period to provide 24/7 essential care and fulfil their duty to maintain animal health and welfare, and public health. However, many have been hit by dramatic reductions in turnover as they scale back their schedules and staffing rotas in order to prioritise the safety of colleagues and clients. It’s a huge concern that vets are still being overlooked when many other high street businesses have been offered an economic lifeline. 

“Restrictions may now be easing, but business is by no means back to normal as practices adjust to new and unpredictable realities. The sad fact is that some of the practices that have been hit hardest financially may not survive, and that could mean gaps in the provision of veterinary care for pet owners and the farming industry.”