Pandemic has shone a spotlight on underfunding of HSE, MPs on Work and Pensions Committee are told
Mike Clancy, the General Secretary of Prospect, the union representing health and safety inspectors at the HSE, made the comments at a House of Commons Work and Pensions committee session on the 17th March. Mr Clancy highlighted that the HSE had suffered cuts of 54 per cent in real terms since 2010, reducing the ability of the organisation to respond to the virus. He said the vast majority of proactive site visits conducted by the HSE in response to Covid have been conducted by external contractors “such as debt collection agencies” – 52,000 compared to 12,000 carried out by trained HSE inspectors.
Clancy told the committee that a “lesson had to be learned” about the impact of cutting capacity and the inability to turn the tap back on to respond to a crisis. Speaking after the session, Mike Clancy said: “Smart health and safety regulations require trained expert inspectors with the right tools to do the job. It is an inescapable fact that we don’t have enough people with the right powers to properly enforce these regulations across the economy. Government has to change tack and provide a long-term funding settlement to HSE. This is the only way to restore inspector numbers and boost the confidence of businesses, workers and consumers that health and safety at work is something we take seriously as a country.”
Work and Pensions Committee Oral Evidence 17th March 2021