Unchecked.uk, a new campaign backed by 20 non-governmental organisations including Chartered
Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and RoSPA is warning that a fall in funding and staff at regulatory agencies have left a dangerous “enforcement gap”.
Co-ordinated by the Ecology Trust, looks at the UK’s
enforcement record in six areas of public protection: food, environmental standards, workers’ rights, consumer safety, local spaces and health & safety.
In Health & Safety, it claims there was a 53% cut in HSE funding between 2009-10 and 2016-17, over this period the number of prosecutions brought by the HSE in England and Wales fell by 25%, unannounced inspections were down by 40% between 2010/11 and 2016/17. The number of HSE “frontline” inspectors fell by 27% between 2009/10 and 2016/17 and construction inspectors by 40%.
Local authority spending on Health & Safety in England fell by 41% with the total number of council inspectors down by 48% according to the paper.
English Fire authorities funding fell by around 30% while their fire safety audits also fell by 30%. From 2009/10 to 2016/17 funding falls were recorded at the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (15%), Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (63%), and Equality and Human Rights Commission (67%).
From 2009/10 to 2015/16 the number of legal cases taken on by the Equality and Human Rights Commission fell by 76%.
Emma Rose of Unchecked.uk described the figures as “cause for serious national concerns”. Regulators are operating with, on average 50% less funding than ten years ago, so “vital protections can no longer be taken for
granted”, she said.