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

BUDGETS AND STAFF

Unchecked has mapped the declines in budgets and staff across major regulators and Local Authorities over a nine year period, focusing on food safety, workplace rights, consumer safety, environmental protection and health & safety.

Across the board, regulators have experienced substantial reductions in their funding, accompanied by a steep reduction in staff numbers.  From 2009/10 to 2017/18, the budgets of major regulators fell by over 50% in real terms.  The number of staff who work in these areas at local and national level has plummeted by around 30% – representing a loss roughly equivalent to the number of GPs in England.

BUDGETS AND STAFF

Unchecked has mapped the declines in budgets and staff across major regulators and Local Authorities over a nine year period, focusing on food safety, workplace rights, consumer safety, environmental protection and health & safety.

Across the board, regulators have experienced substantial reductions in their funding, accompanied by a steep reduction in staff numbers.  From 2009/10 to 2017/18, the budgets of major regulators fell by over 50% in real terms.  The number of staff who work in these areas at local and national level has plummeted by around 30% – representing a loss roughly equivalent to the number of GPs in England.

Strapped for cash and short on staff, many watchdogs may no longer have the tools to carry out their statutory responsibilities.  Enforcement activities such as inspections, sampling and prosecutions have fallen sharply.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY

Unchecked has documented the decline in enforcement activity across a number of different areas.  The cumulative trend away from regulatory enforcement and oversight is evidenced by a staggering decline in almost every metric of enforcement activity across the spectrum of public protection.

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.

The implications of the UK’s enforcement gap are highly concerning.  As the UK prepares to leave the EU, local and national regulators, already stretched to breaking point, face substantial increases to their workloads and responsibilities. Unless addressed, this has the potential to undermine the vital protections we all depend on – such as food quality, rights at work and product safety.

ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY

Unchecked has documented the decline in enforcement activity across a number of different areas.  The cumulative trend away from regulatory enforcement and oversight is evidenced by a staggering decline in almost every metric of enforcement activity across the spectrum of public protection.

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.

The implications of the UK’s enforcement gap are highly concerning.  As the UK prepares to leave the EU, local and national regulators, already stretched to breaking point, face substantial increases to their workloads and responsibilities. Unless addressed, this has the potential to undermine the vital protections we all depend on – such as food quality, rights at work and product safety.