An independent panel, chaired by a Liverpool University professor, has concluded that the Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme - found under regulations 23 to 25 of the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 - has been widely effective and should stay.
The FFI, introduced on 1 October 2012, was designed to make businesses that break the law pay the costs associated with health and safety regulation, rather than it coming from the public purse. The regulations give HSE the power to recover its cost where there has been a ‘material breach’ of health and safety law.
Representatives of the GMB trade union, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the Department of Work and Pensions, were also involved in the compilation of the report on the Fee for Intervention. The report consisted of research projects to inquire into the behaviours and views of both inspectors and duty holders, since the implementation of FFI.
The report indicates that the work of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been successfully and consistently implemented, and that enforcement policy decisions have been fair and not influenced by the introduction of FFI.
Overall, it found the FFI did achieve the overarching policy aim of shifting the burden of cost from the public to the offenders themselves, and could see no alternative within the current environment and the constraints on the HSE to replace it. In fact, the report recommended that there is a strong case for extending the inspection and investigation regime operated by HSE via FFI.
The report also notes the professional approach of the HSE inspectors, who rose above challenges faced by the scheme and also silenced concerns, which had been voiced about FFI prior to its implementation. One such fear was that the FFI would be used to make money - the report has concluded this worry to be unfounded, by stating that it ‘could find no compelling evidence to suggest that HSE is using FFI as a ‘cash cow’, solely to generate revenue’.
The Chair of HSE, Judith Hackitt, 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”.
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