The fee total has increased every year since it was introduced in 2012, with a 49% increase in the past 2 years.
The fees hit £15m in 2016, an increase of 23% from the £12m in 2015.
Under the scheme, if the HSE thinks a business is breaching health and safety laws, an inspector will serve a “Notification of Contravention” which triggers the £129 hourly rate for the HSE’s staff man hours. The total charge depends on how long it takes HSE to identify and conclude its regulatory intervention.
The fees the HSE charges businesses through this scheme are intended to cover all its costs, including site inspections and subsequent office work. The charges are also meant to cover the administration costs of invoicing businesses, travel, training and paying staff, telecoms and even IT.
Despite forcing businesses to pay over £15m in fees last year, the costs of administering the scheme were even higher. The scheme fell short by £2.7m in 2015/16, which represents an increase of 53% on the shortfall of £1.8m for 2014/15, says the accounts.
The Fees For Intervention scheme is just one of several cost recovery schemes the HSE runs. Although the HSE charges fees through these schemes, recovers its costs following successful prosecutions and receives funding from the taxpayer, it is still losing money. It ran a total budget deficit of £11.7m last year, a 64% increase on its deficit of £7.1m for 2014/15.
With a deficit to cover, it is more than likely that the HSE will increase the frequency of surprise visits to sites.
Unfortunately this means that the true reason for the FFI is overshadowed. One must not forget that the purpose of the FFI is not to create revenue, but to ensure safe working and to punish those who take liberties with the safety of others and themselves.