Toxic, Corrosive and Hazardous – the Government’s record on health and safety
Download The Government record on H&S [PDF]
Local authorities’ cuts
Local authorities have also been hit hard by the cuts. Local councils are joint regulators of workplace health and safety along with the HSE, and also conduct health and safety inspections.
Central government has reduced funding for local authorities in England by 40 per cent. Although various councils have been hit differently as the level of cut will depend on the proportion of central government grant, local authorities in the most deprived areas of England are facing cuts averaging 25.3 per cent between the financial years 2010/11 to 2015/16. Often these councils, predominantly in inner-city areas, were those who did the most health and safety work.
Because it is up to each local authority how much it spends on this area of work, the cut in health and safety budgets has also been unequal; but overall local authorities have reduced their inspections by a massive 93 per cent since 2009/10. However, most of this has been a result of pressure from the government to reduce inspections rather than just because of the financial cuts imposed on councils. Nevertheless, the number of inspectors employed by local authorities has fallen from 1,050 full-time equivalents in 2009/10 to 854 in 2013/14.
While the cuts are having a considerable effect on the ability of the HSE and local authorities to operate effectively, the main concerns over health and safety in the past four years have not only been over the cuts to funding, but also the strategic direction and deregulation that this government has forced through during the past four years and which are changing the whole landscape of health and safety.