Ratflation: 743 rodent infestations tackled each day in 2023

  • 271,343 residential visits for rodent infestations in 2023
  • 48 people admitted to hospital in 2022/23 having been bitten by a rat
  • 23 per cent increase in callouts for bedbugs
  • A quarter (26 per cent) of local authorities no longer provide pest control services
  • Approximately £44 million is spent by councils tackling rodent infestations each year

Local authority pest controllers made 271,343 visits to homes with rat and mice infestations in 2023, the equivalent to 743 a day, according to new research from Direct Line Home Insurance1.

Rodents aren’t the only pests plaguing the UK, as 2023 also saw an increase in the number of residential call outs for both cockroaches and bedbugs. Councils experienced a 23 per cent increase in bedbug call outs compared to 2022, from 11,819 visits to 14,587. Call outs for cockroaches also increased by three per cent compared to 2022, from 8,455 to 8,706 visits.

The availability of council operated pest control services is a postcode lottery, with services across the UK varying wildly. Only eight per cent of councils who responded provide pest removal services free of charge, whilst the majority require residents to pay a fee that ranges from £10 to £264. Amongst the highest charges were Southwark (£226.98), Kirklees, in Yorkshire (£210) and Oxford City Council (£264). Some councils, including Shetland, Somerset, and Welwyn Hatfield, offer a reduced fee for those on benefits, whist others impose a flat rate regardless of circumstances.

Over 100 (104) of the 397 councils contacted did not provide a pest control service at all, meaning over a quarter (26 per cent) of Britons would be required to use a private contractor to resolve these issues. This includes large local authorities such as Bradford, Middlesbrough, and Chichester councils.

The average cost of providing pest control services is around £150k per council (£150,310). For large metropolitan areas the costs are often considerably higher than this, Edinburgh invested £603,602 and Liverpool £630,332 in 2023 on these services.  In total across 2022 and 2023, local authorities across the UK spent an estimated £44 million tackling rodent infestations2.

Rodents can cause significant structural damage to homes by gnawing under floorboards, within stud walls and drywall linings, or by making holes in loft insulation which can cause condensation and rot in the joists. If mice and rats chew through plastic pipes it can also lead to damp, or flooding whilst rodents chewing through electrical cables could cause significant fire risks.

It’s not just the home rats can impact, the risk to human life should also be considered. According to the latest hospital admissions data, 48 individuals were admitted to hospital in 2022/23 having been bitten by a rat3. This figure is likely to be much higher as many incidents of this nature will go unreported. Rodents are known to carry diseases such as Salmonella and Listeria, which can easily spread to humans, normally through rodent urine, droppings, or by coming into contact with food preparation areas.

Maria Lawrence, Product Manager for Direct Line Home Insurance said: “The public will understandably be squeamish upon learning about the scale of pest problems faced by authorities in the UK, particularly as they can create real issues for people’s health. Across the UK there is a huge difference in the costs people face, depending on where they live, with either free services or significant charges to tackle these issues.”

Ian Andrew, Chief Executive at British Pest Control Association, said: "It's absolutely vital that householders consider calling in a BPCA member at the first sign of rodent activity. Rats are a serious public health pest with rapid breeding cycles, which means an infestation can escalate quickly.

"Failed DIY treatments can make the issue worse, as well as potentially endangering other people or non-target species.

"BPCA members now automatically qualify for TrustMark status, because they have the technical expertise and training needed to investigate a pest issue, identify the root cause and work with householders to protect their safety, health and wellbeing."

To help homeowners prevent pest invasions, Direct Line Home Insurance has provided the following five tips:

  • Keep refuse bins sealed: Avoid attracting rodents to your property in the first place by keeping all rubbish bins containing food waste properly sealed, clearing away garden waste and by using rodent safe bird feeders.
  • Keep surfaces clean: Rodents are drawn to food debris so wiping down surfaces regularly, clearing up food spillages and throwing away uneaten food will help to prevent unwanted visitors.
  • Fill cracks and crevasses: Many rodents are crafty at finding entry routes into the home. Prevent them from getting in by sealing gaps around doors and windows. Also block holes above or under the sink as many pests will use this area to gain access to water.
  • Seal food: Store food in safe and enclosed containers to prevent rodents from being tempted to visit your home.
  • Avoid clutter: Rodents love hiding in dark areas so keep the home clutter-free to remove opportunities for them to set up a home in your house.


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Notes to editors

1.      Freedom of Information Act request made to all Local Authorities across the UK and NI in January/February 2024, of which 353 replied with usable responses. Please note some Local Authorities reported updated figures for 2021 and 2022 that differed from figures previously supplied and published.

2.      £150,310 multiplied by 397 (local authorities polled in the UK).

3.      NHS, Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2022-23.

For further information please contact:

Direct Line Group:

Chelsey Wheeler

Deputy Head of News and Issues

Email: [email protected]

PR team:

Fleishman Hillard

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 07482107207

Direct Line

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