Memorandum submitted by FDA
FDA represents a number of senior managers,
lawyers and statisticians in HSE. We are seriously concerned about
HSE's resource position. HSE has lost over a quarter of its staff
in the last 5 years and is likely to lose more as a result of
further resource constraints. The contribution made by FDA members
in the organisation is particularly under threat from the need
for more savings including the planned move of the London HQ to
Merseyside. HSE urgently needs an injection of more resource if
it is to continue to serve its purpose as an effective regulator
of health and safety in this country.
1. FDA represents a number of senior managers,
lawyers and statisticians in HSE HQ.
2. Our submission focuses, as will those
of the other HSE trade unions, on the resource problems which
currently confront HSE.
3. HSE received a flat cash settlement for
2005-08 and has therefore had to make £50 million worth of
efficiency savings in that period (to be seen in context this
is against an annual budget of £235 million in 2007-08).
This has resulted in significant staff reductions, for example
in human resource management, and inadequate resources for example
to develop effective new computer systems.
4. HSE's primary resource is its staff and
staff-related costs comprise the majority of its budget. Staffing
levels are therefore especially sensitive to resource reductions.
In April 2002 HSE had 4,282 Full Time Equivalent posts (FTEs)
but at the end of August 2007 there were less than 3,200. Including
the loss of staff to the Office of Rail Regulation, this represents
a 27% reduction in just over 5 years.
5. DWP has now agreed to a financial settlement
of minus 5% each year for the next three financial years. HSE
may now therefore be expected to take on similar cuts to DWP.
If this happens, HSE's staffing levels will continue to fall by
more than 100 FTEs a year throughout that period.
6. Any settlement below the rate of inflation,
let alone of the level contemplated, and coming on top of the
reductions of recent years, will seriously undermine HSE's ability
to meet its basic aim of `reducing risks and protecting people'.
HSE urgently needs an injection of resources to maintain its capabilities
7. HSE has punched above its weight in terms
of what it has achieved against diminishing resources, but there
are signs that this position cannot be maintained. For example
the (provisional) figure for the number of workers fatally injured
in 2006-07 was 241, compared with 217 in 2005-06a rise
of 11%. And the rate of fatal injuries rose to 0.80 per 100,000
workers in 2006-07 from 0.72 in 2005-06. Also, HSE is no longer
on track to achieve its targets for ill-health or number of working
8. The levels of enforcement activity are
down: in 2002-03 13,324 enforcement notices were served but in
2006-07 there were only 8,099, a fall of 39%. Over the same period
the number of offences prosecuted fell from 1,659 to 1,141, a
fall of 31%.
9. The sums of money that would make a real
difference to HSE's effectiveness are very small in comparison
to the overall budget of DWP (£8,105 million in 2007-08),
and in comparison to the costs to society of occupational injuries
and ill-health (estimated to be approximately £25.9 billion
in the UK annually). HSE received just £235 million for 2007-08.
10. Protecting "front line" inspection,
as the Government promises, is a red herring because without support
from policy staff keeping the legislation up to date, lawyers
advising on application of the law, statisticians and other analysts
collecting and interpreting evidence and scientists providing
robust and objective technical support for enforcement action,
so-called "front line" staff cannot be effective. Of
particular concern to the FDA is the recent loss of the post of
Deputy Chief Executive covering the policy function. This could
diminish HSE's ability to provide policy advice to the HSE/Ministers
and to keep health and safety concerns central to Government policy-making.
11. Another issue of concern to us is the
proposed relocation of all HSE's London-based HQ posts to Merseyside.
This will result in the loss of virtually all HSE's policy and
litigation legal staff within two years, because very few of those
currently in post are willing to move. We understand that in the
present financial climate there is great pressure on HSE to make
savings by transferring staff out of London, but we are concerned
that the costs in terms of the loss of experienced, competent
staff and the consequent loss of business continuity, have not
been taken fully into account. For example, under present proposals
it is possible that HSE's Legal Adviser's Office will be split
between London and Merseyside which would divide a Unit which
has worked successfully as one for many years. HSE is in danger
of losing influence with key stakeholders who are based in the
capital, including other Government Departments; it will have
to work very hard to maintain its credibility with them. The proposed
move to Merseyside is causing many staff to leave the organisation
and this is already impacting on delivery.
12. The effect of the resource constraints
is not only that `front line'/visible activity is diminishing,
but that all staff are having to drop important work in order
to do essential workthe result is that key tasks like liaising
with stakeholders and reviewing and updating legislation are not
being done. The consequences of this in terms whether this country
has an effective and relevant national health and safety regulator
will be felt not only in the short term but also in the long term