CAN’T CHECK

The capacity of UK regulators has been systematically eroded. Years of cuts to the budgets of local and national enforcement teams has been matched by huge declines in staffing.

Unchecked has mapped the declines in budgets and staff across major regulators and local authorities, focusing on food safety, workplace rights, consumer safety, environmental protection and health & safety.

What we have found is shocking. From 2009/10 to 2016/17, budgets of important regulators fell by over 50% in real terms. The number of staff who work in these areas at local and national level has plummeted – representing a loss roughly equivalent to the number of GPs in England. Cash-strapped regulators are now constantly pushed to do more with less, leaving businesses free to cut corners.

BUDGETS AND STAFF

Figures in the scrolling graph below cover 2009/10 to 2016/17. % falls in funding are real terms, adjusted to 2016 prices.

Unchecked has mapped the declines in budgets and staff across major regulators and local authorities, focusing on food safety, workplace rights, consumer safety, environmental protection and health & safety.

What we have found is shocking. From 2009/10 to 2016/17, budgets of important regulators fell by over 50% in real terms. The number of staff who work in these areas at local and national level has plummeted – representing a loss roughly equivalent to the number of GPs in England. Cash-strapped regulators are now constantly pushed to do more with less, leaving businesses free to cut corners.

BUDGETS AND STAFF

Figures in the scrolling graph below cover 2009/10 to 2016/17. % falls in funding are real terms, adjusted to 2016 prices.

DON’T CHECK

Strapped for cash and short on staff, many watchdogs no longer have the tools for the important jobs they do. Enforcement activities such as inspections, monitoring and prosecutions have fallen sharply.

Unchecked has documented the declines in enforcement activity across the spectrum of public protection. The extent of the UK’s enforcement gap is shocking, and hugely worrying. The average business can now expect to be visited by Local Authority health and safety inspectors once every 20 years. Employers can expect a visit from HMRC’s national minimum wage inspectors once in 250 years. Some food businesses haven’t been checked in over a decade.

What’s more, faced with dwindling resources, regulators are increasingly asking businesses to self-police and self-report. While most businesses will continue to play fair, others won’t. Plummeting enforcement is putting vital protections – such as safety standards, food quality and product safety – at risk.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY

Figures in the scrolling graph below cover 2009/10 to 2016/17.

Unchecked has documented the declines in enforcement activity across the spectrum of public protection. The extent of the UK’s enforcement gap is shocking, and hugely worrying. The average business can now expect to be visited by Local Authority health and safety inspectors once every 20 years. Employers can expect a visit from HMRC’s national minimum wage inspectors once in 250 years. Some food businesses haven’t been checked in over a decade.

What’s more, faced with dwindling resources, regulators are increasingly asking businesses to self-police and self-report. While most businesses will continue to play fair, others won’t. Plummeting enforcement is putting vital protections – such as safety standards, food quality and product safety – at risk.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY

Figures in the scrolling graph below cover 2009/10 to 2016/17.