5 May 2009 : Column 1P


Tuesday 5 May 2009


Work and Pensions

Health and Safety Executive (London Headquarters)

The Petition of the Public and Commercial Services Union,

Declares that the Petitioners are seriously concerned about the closure of the Health and Safety Executive’s London Headquarters; further declares that the business case for the single Headquarters assumed that 40 per cent. would move to Liverpool; notes that so far only 12 staff (4 per cent.) have expressed an interest in moving; and further notes that this means that 310 people will lose their jobs with HSE losing the competence, knowledge and know-how of a significant portion of their workforce.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to reconsider the closure of the Health and Safety Executive’s London Headquarters.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Simon Hughes , Official Report, 1 April 2009; Vol. 490, c. 1014.]


5 May 2009 : Column 2P

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions:

The Government believes there are significant benefits for the Health and Safety Executive in moving to a single HQ. Housing the Executive Leadership and the majority of its strategy, policy, operational planning and management, and corporate support teams under one roof will lead to a more effective organisation, better placed to protect workers and the public.

The decision to move was taken in the best interests of the whole organisation and over 10 years, will realise predicted net savings of between £47 million and £61million. These savings will be invested in interventions to reduce accidents and ill health. The move is also in step with the Government’s policy of reducing the number of posts in London and increasing the efficiency of its estate. Around two thirds of the staff affected have secured jobs in HSE or in other parts of the civil service. The assumption that 40 per cent. of staff would move to Liverpool was made at the outset of the programme and was for the sole purpose of enabling an initial estimate of the costs of the programme to be produced.

The Government has recognised from the outset that there are risks to business continuity from the creation of a single HQ, but considers that these risks are being properly managed. This is also the view of Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE and the HSE Board. HSE’s approach to the identification and management of risks from the single HQ has been endorsed by the independent Office of Government Commerce (OGC) reviews. Through recruitment of new staff to Bootle, retention of key London staff through the transition process, flexibility to adapt the pace of change to any emerging pressures and continual senior management oversight, HSE has and will continue to maintain business continuity and deliver the major benefits that the single HQ will bring.

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