Dangerous Cuts to Environmental & Social Protection

by ukcivilservant

I have been impressed by the quality of the first research  findings of unchecked.uk .   It is, I guess, hardly surprising that regulators’ enforcement activity has fallen over the last few years.  But the scale of the reduction is astonishing.   From 2009/10 to 2016/17, real terms funding for the environmental and social protection work of ten key national regulators fell on average by 50%.  The consequential falls in enforcement activity are summarised in this chart:

Screenshot 2019-10-08 at 17.15.57

There is much more detail in unchecked‘s first briefing paper The UK’s Enforcement Gap  but a couple of sentences stand out:-

  • The number of Local Authority food safety improvement notices fell by 50%.
    • It has subsequently been reported that 15,000 restaurants etc. would fail hygiene tests*.  The cost of consequential sickness falls on employers and the NHS.
  • Fire safety audits in England fell by 30%.
  • Environment Agency prosecutions of businesses fell by 80%.
    • The agency has no specific budget to enforce legislation introduced in 2018 to protect waterways from fertiliser and manure pollution which is one of the main reasons why more than 80% of England’s rivers fail to meet EU minimum standards**.

Against this background, it was ‘interesting’ to hear Sajid Javid recently announce a (post-)Brexit Red Tape Challenge even though Brexiteers have been noticeably coy in refusing to say what sort of regulations and enforcement might be cut further if we leave the EU.  This suggests that we will be hearing quite a lot more from unchecked over the coming months and years.

A detailed history of UK Better/Deregulation may be found here .


Martin Stanley

Editor Understanding Government, including Understanding Regulation .

* The Times 5 October 2019
**The Times 17 August 2019