The Austerity Enforcement Gap – The Workplace
Strong rules help to make sure that the air we breathe and the water we drink is clean, that our food is safe and correctly labelled, our natural spaces are being looked after, and the products we buy are safe. Strong rules protect the most vulnerable in society and provide a level playing-field for British businesses. They allow us to get on with all the things we want to do in life, and they are part of what we have come to expect, and it’s common sense to maintain them. But over the years, the agencies which enforce the rules have had their budgets substantially reduced. Strapped for cash and short on staff, many watchdogs no longer have the tools for the important jobs they do.
Unchecked is a new campaign which investigates the UK’s shrinking enforcement capacity and exposes the real-world costs of the failure to properly enforce the rules. This briefing outlines some of their finding, which we have been publishing over the last couple of weeks.
Overall, from 2009/10 to 2016/17, real-terms funding for the environmental and social protection work of ten key national regulators1 fell on average by 50%. The total number of full-time staff working at these regulators fell by 30% in this period. And from 2009/10 to 2016/17, spending by Local Authorities and fire authorities in England on key services which protect the health and wellbeing of citizens and the environment fell on average by 35%.
Overall, for the workplace:
Missing holiday pay amounts to £500 million. Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate funding fell by 63% and National Minimum Wage investigations completed by HMRC fell by 27%
Responsibility for protecting workers and stopping illegal activity such as forced labour, discrimination at work, trafficking or breaches of the National Minimum Wage falls to a few agencies. These include the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Local Authorities and the Health and Safety Executive share responsibility for keeping people safe at work.
Rights at work: money and manpower
- The Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority’s funding fell by 15%
- From 2010/11 to 2016/17 Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority staff numbers fell by 22%
- The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate’s funding fell by 63%
- Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate staff numbers fell by 63%
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s funding fell by 67%
- Equality and Human Rights Commission staff numbers fell by 63%
- The Health and Safety Executive’s funding fell by 53%
- Health and Safety Executive staff numbers fell by 32%
- National Minimum Wage investigations completed by HMRC fell by 27%
- The number of licenses revoked by the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority fell by 38%
- Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority inspections fell by 43%
- Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate targeted inspections fell by 13%
- The number of infringements found by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate fell by 65%
- The number of complaints cleared by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate fell by 61%
- The number of warning letters issued by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate fell by 40%
- From 2009/10 to 2015/16 the number of legal cases taken on by the Equality and Human Rights Commission fell by 76%
Source: Unchecked – ‘Enforcement Gap Report‘
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