Sell-off fears for health and safety regulator
Ministers want to take advantage of watchdog’s expertise to raise revenue
The Health & Safety Executive is set to bring in bosses from the commercial sector to beef up its board of directors in a move that unions believe could lead to privatisation of the independent regulator.
A review of the HSE’s £145.5m budget earlier this year called on the Work and Pensions department, which oversees the organisation, to look for ways to profit out of parts of its work.
The HSE ensures safety and welfare in the workplace and is prominent in dangerous industries such as construction.
Ideas floated included developing an improved commercial model for the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire, which provides technical support to HSE investigations. Overseas governments may be willing to pay for the laboratory’s work, such as providing expert witnesses.
Unions fear that these recommendations could mark the “first step to privatisation”.
The Government has denied that it wants to sell off chunks of the HSE, but minister Mike Penning’s response to the review, published last month, said that the Government intended to “go further” than those recommendations to allow HSE to become “more commercial in outlook and delivery”.
As well as bringing in directors with commercial expertise, this could include partnering with organisations overseas to help the HSE to sell health and safety advice to other governments.
“The Government is exploring options for the growth of the services provided by the HSE and the Laboratory to the outside world,” explained an insider. “Some of the work in the coming months will include looking at using external partners overseas and employing people [abroad] on different terms and conditions rather than using a civil servant.”
Unison’s head of health and safety, Tracey Harding, said that such moves could result in “taking expertise from the HSE in order to make money”.
Mr Penning said in the review response that “there is international interest in learning from and adopting Britain’s health and safety regulatory system” and officials were looking at ways to allow the HSE to meet “a much larger proportion of its costs from commercial activities”.
The HSE has been asked to report back in the autumn over the feasibility of charging businesses that want additional visits from inspectors to ensure that their safety practices are top notch.
The organisation could also charge for an advice service for firms in the chemicals industry seeking to navigate the complicated planning system.
A DWP spokesman said: “By sharing HSE’s expertise and knowledge at home and around the globe, we are exploring taking advantage of commercial opportunities to achieve a better deal for taxpayers.”
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
- 3 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...
£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...