Tag Archives: cost recovery

British Safety Council responds to HSE cost recovery consultation

24 Oct

The British Safety Council has submitted its views to HSE concerning its proposals to extend it power to charge for specific interventions including where action is taken by the regulator to address a material breach of health and safety law. The British Safety Council based its submission in part on the results of survey of its members and on the knowledge of health and safety regulation and management built up over the last fifty years. Generally, members were content with the proposal, recognising that HSE needs to address its costs and that in principle those who operate outside the law should contribute to the costs of regulatory action.

Alex Botha, the British Safety Council chief executive, said: “In our response we made clear that our members, in the main, felt that the compliant and committed had nothing to fear from these proposals – and were certain that this change would drive improvements and a higher level of compliance and consequently a reduction in workplace injuries and work-related ill health occurrences. Under present arrangements the non-compliant appeared to have an unfair business advantage by not making the investment necessary to effectively control the risk of injury and ill health.”

However concerns were raised by a small but significant number of members about how this change will impact on the regulator/duty holder relationship. Some thought it may create the conditions for a less open relationship between the two. The British Safety Council acknowledged HSE’s commitment to measure the impact of the proposed changes on the level of compliance. However it also though it necessary to measure any indirect impact on the incidence and number of workplace injury and work related ill health occurrences.

The new charging regime is planned to come into force in April 2012.

“Do the maths” – HSE publishes proposals for recovering its costs from non compliant duty holders

26 Jul

The HSE issued a consultation document on 22 July 2011 containing proposals to place a legal duty “on HSE to recover costs where duty holders are found to be in material breach of health and safety law”.  The British Safety Council will shortly be consulting its own members in Great Britain concerning the proposals through an online survey and face-to-face meetings. The importance of this particular consultation cannot be overestimated.  This impact of this particular regulatory change is not solely about a transfer of the burden of meeting the costs of tackling non-compliance from the taxpayer to the regulator.  It raises questions too about the relationship between the regulator, that is HSE, and duty holders and the policy and practice concerning HSE enforcement. For the present the cost recovery proposals apply only to the work of HSE not to the equivalent work undertaken by local authorities.

The consultative document makes clear that HSE would not have discretion on whether to apply fee for intervention. Rather HSE would be under a duty to recover the costs of its intervention activity where there had been a material breach of health and safety law.

An average hourly rate of £133 would be used for all HSE staff with the costs of specialist support staff added where required. The preferred option in the supporting impact assessment, that is option 6, estimates that the “the benefit to the taxpayer equal to the sum of costs recovered from businesses” would be approximately be a maximum of £46.3 million per year. Doing the maths produces a figure of some 323,000 chargeable hours to generate the revenue necessary to recover costs of £46.3 million. If we make a working assumption that each intervention, where costs are to be recovered, averages out at 10 hours of HSE time we can expect to see some 30,000+ interventions per year. What will be the consequence for HSE of not generating the additional income from cost recovery that will be built into its budget for 2012/13 and beyond?

These are significant sums of money both for the organisations who will have to bear the costs and for HSE who from April 2012 will have to recover these costs in order to carry out its full range of statutory responsibilities.

The HSE consultation document can be accessed at http://www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/cd235.htm  and the impact assessment can be accessed at http://consultations.hse.gov.uk/gf2.ti/f/15138/393893.1/pdf/-/CD235%20Impact%20assessment.pdf