Charity Commission approves scheme for PDSA to broaden its objects

The regulator upholds the veterinary charity's view that the proposed changes, which include offering treatment at reduced prices, would not have a significant negative effect on private vets


The Charity Commission has approved a scheme for the veterinary charity the PDSA to broaden its objects, dismissing concerns that the change could have a negative effect on private vets.

The charity’s current objects are to provide free veterinary treatment to animals whose owners are unable to afford it, along with "such other things as are incidental" to this.

A draft scheme made by the commission, published on its website in July, proposed changing these to include treatment at reduced prices, the provision of treatment to prevent the suffering of animals, the education of the public in animal health and welfare matters and the advancement of animal welfare by any other means. This will allow the charity to expand its services at its existing network of 51 pet hospitals across the UK, according to a spokeswoman for the charity.

The commission received several objections to this. The PDSA spokeswoman said: "During the consultation exercise, PDSA received many letters of support for the proposed changes from the veterinary profession. However, the Charity Commission also received a small number of representations outlining concerns that veterinary businesses could be negatively impacted by these changes."

Having received these concerns, the commission reviewed its decision to make the scheme. On the commission’s request, the charity submitted an independent impact assessment on 3 December, which said that the impact of the proposed changes on the private veterinary sector "was not considered to be significant", according to the commission’s decision review document.

"It was also clear that the proposed changes to the objects would enable the charity to further its purposes more effectively," the document said. The commission therefore upheld the scheme.

As the charity’s governing document is an act of parliament, the scheme must be reviewed by Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, and the PDSA spokeswoman said that, pending Wilson’s approval, it should be laid before parliament for final approval early in the new year.

Last month, the charity announced a rebrand in an attempt to cultivate "broader public awareness".

The spokeswoman for the charity said of the change to its objects that providing free treatment will remain its "core activity", but went on to say: "By expanding our charitable objects, we will be able to communicate our pet health messages to a much wider audience and thereby deliver a greater public benefit in terms of the advancement of animal welfare, as well as the relief of poverty."

According to the spokeswoman, the change will also put the charity in a better position to alleviate poverty from "vulnerable people who may be unable to meet the full cost of private veterinary care". The scheme would also amend the PDSA’s investment powers and provisions regarding the auditing of its accounts.

The PDSA had income of £87.2m and 1,700 staff in 2013, its accounts show.

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