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Campaign urges U-turn on funding cuts to narrow UK’s widening 'enforcement gap'

A flagship campaign to reverse funding cuts to enforcement agencies has been launched, arguing that local and national safety enforcement teams have been “slowly eroded”.

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The UK’s Enforcement Gap campaign contends that the principal regulators are, on average, operating with 50% less funding than ten years ago. These include the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Food Standards Agency and the Environment Agency.

Twenty organisations backed the initiative by writing to The Times in August warning about the destructive nature of these cuts to enforcement agencies.

The campaign, led by Unchecked.uk and co-ordinated by the Ecology Trust, looks at the UK’s enforcement record in six areas of public protection: food, environmental, workers’ rights, consumer safety, local spaces, and health and safety.

Despite major progress, Britain still faces stiff health and safety challenges

 

In the health and safety sector, Unchecked.uk calculated there was a 53% cut in funding for the HSE between 2009-10 and 2016-17. Over the same period, the number of prosecutions brought by the regulator in England and Wales fell by 25%. Unannounced inspections were down by 40% between 2010-11 and 2016-17.

“We have launched Unchecked.uk to show that vital protections can no longer be taken for granted,” said spokesperson Emma Rose.

“Despite major progress, Britain still faces stiff health and safety challenges.”

Though Rose said reportable work-related fatal and serious injuries had reduced in recent years, there were still high injury rates in the agriculture, waste and construction sectors and among small and medium-sized enterprises. Occupational diseases, such as asbestos and occupational cancer, needed to be tackled, as did work-related road safety, a growing threat in the UK’s increasingly service-based, road-mobile economy. The wider health and wellbeing agenda was under-addressed too.

Unchecked.uk pointed out that investment in a strong, effective HSE was of fundamental importance to UK growth and competitiveness, yet the agency’s budget has been slashed over the past ten years.

“What’s more, to relieve pressure on the Exchequer, the government has forced the HSE to pursue a ‘fee-for-intervention’ cost-recovery approach which many say has altered its working relationship with business,” it added.

 

 

Kellie is a freelance writer and former online editor of the Health and Safety at Work website.

Comments

  • Once again unwanted aust

    Permalink Submitted by Jeremy Rowland on 27 September 2019 - 12:11 pm

    Once again unwanted austerity cutbacks are affecting crucial services, we have already seen the results of cutbacks to the Police and judicial system. These cutbacks urgently need reversing.

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  • This is utterly disgusti

    Permalink Submitted by Jeremy Rowland on 25 September 2019 - 10:49 am

    This is utterly disgusting that the funding for these outstanding and critical regulators is constantly being reduced; as with the criminal justice system these austerity cut backs are not wanted by the vast majority of decent people but only be the elitist rich. Sorry but you get what you pay for and if tax needs to be increased to pay for these and other organisations then it should be increased accordingly to meet the funding requirements of those organisations.

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  • Maybe some of the money

    Permalink Submitted by Steven Nagle on 24 September 2019 - 03:04 pm

    Maybe some of the money from all these safety expos and other such events should be used to fill the funding gap... and maybe some more reasonable fines should be issued to assist with that. More realistic prices for HSE-led training (i.e. not £500 per day) would also be useful as sensibly-priced training would put more bums on seats as it would be useful CPD that employers could stomach the price of.

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