The report recognised that inspectors at the Health and Safety Executive have implemented ‘Fee for Intervention’ consistently and fairly since it started in October 2012, and found no evidence to suggest that enforcement policy decisions had been influenced in any way by its introduction.
The independent panel which conducted the review was chaired by Alan Harding, professor of public policy at Liverpool University. Other participants were representatives of the GMB trade union, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Brenig Moore, Operations Director at Astutis however, remains sceptical on its approriateness commenting:
"On the one hand, the justification that FFI is consistent with the 'polluter pays' principle in environmental enforcement and that the costs of regulation should be borne by the rule breakers rather than the public purse, makes sense...to a point.
However, there is significant inequity in that FFI only applies to HSE enforced businesses. Furthermore, in spite of efforts to ensure it is applied consistently and fairly, it still seems contrary to the spirit of ‘better regulation’ as there is no independent right of appeal."
According to the report’s authors, the professional approach adopted by HSE’s inspectors has ensured any challenges raised by the scheme during its first 18 months were minimised. The evidence suggests the concerns voiced about FFI have not manifested themselves to any significant or serious extent and that ‘generally inspectors and dutyholders continue to work together in improving health and safety management’.
Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE, said:
“Both HSE and the Government believe it is right that those who fail to meet their legal health and safety obligations should pay our costs, and acceptance of this principle is growing. This review gives us confidence that FFI is working effectively and should be retained. We will continue to monitor the performance of Fee for Intervention to ensure it remains consistent and fair.”
The report, published by HSE today, along with associated research papers, concludes that “it [FFI] has proven effective in achieving the overarching policy aim of shifting the cost of health and safety regulation from the public purse to those businesses who break health and safety laws.”
It also concludes that:
- Fears that FFI would be used to generate revenue have proven to be unfounded.
- While not popular with some inspectors and dutyholders, it has been embedded effectively and applied consistently.
- There is no viable alternative that can achieve the same aims.
The report can be found on HSE’s website: www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/