Rats are running riot across Milton Keynes, new research shows
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Rampant rats are causing record numbers of infestations in Milton Keynes, new research has shown.
Freedom of information requests by Direct Line Home Insurance shows MK City Council tackled 469 rodent infestations in 2022 – up from 221 in 2020.
But these are only the tip of the iceberg. For the council only deals with rats on public land or communal areas of property. All city householders – including council tenants – have to pay privately to get the pests dealt with.
The council has a contract with DialAPest, part of SDK Environment, to offer this private service - at a cost of up to £120 for the householder.
A discounted rate is available for people on certain benefits.
Councils have specific powers to ensure areas are free from rats and mice. They must take action to destroy rodents on their own land and can serve a legal notice on an owner ordering them to get rid of the problem.
The British Pest Control Association says pest management is vital but the high cost of services often leads to ineffective DIY methods.
Their chief executive Ian Andrew said rodents are a "serious public health pest" with rapid breeding cycles, which means infestations can escalate quickly.
He added: "Unfortunately, being unable to afford pest control increases the likelihood of people either ignoring infestations or attempting DIY pest control methods, which can make the issue worse and endanger other people or non-target species.
"Pest management is vital for maintaining the safety, health and wellbeing of people, so it would be great to see something in the UK like the proactive approach New York City are taking, with the appointment of a 'rat tsar'."
In the UK, a total of 225,400 rodent infestations were dealt with in 2022 by the 181 local authorities which provided data to Direct Line - the equivalent of 618 per day.
Dan Simson, head of Direct Line Home Insurance, said mice and rats pose a real risk to people's homes and health.
"They take advantage of issues like broken pipes, slipped roof tiles or holes in skirting to gain access to a property, often causing serious damage to the structural integrity of a building or belongings.”