Meagre funding rise revealed as select committee snubs call for safety advisory scheme

The Health and Safety Commission and Executive will receive up to £721m in total funding for the next three years.

The settlement, from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), is just £7m higher than for the previous three years, a rise of less than 1%. The sum for that period also included a carry forward of £17m.

The HSE said it had just received confirmation of the settlement and had not considered how much would be committed to construction.

The funding figures emerged during a DWP select committee hearing into the workings of the HSC and the HSE. A planned 8% cut in the number of inspectors last year fuelled fears that the HSE was under-resourced.

During the committee HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger also said the organisation wanted inspectors to work more closely with the crown prosecution service to speed up investigations that involved manslaughter cases.

During the session Lord McKenzie, parliamentary undersecretary of state, also dealt a blow to Ucatt and the Federation of Master Builders by saying the body would not fund a reintroduction of a worker safety adviser scheme. The scheme ran as a three-year pilot until 2007 and provided advisers to visit SMEs to talk to them about health and safety issues.

Ucatt is pushing for a new scheme via the worker involvement group of the Strategic Forum, and the Federation of Master Builders submitted evidence on the project to the committee.

On the controversial issue of voluntary guidance for directors, McKenzie said a more formal approach was still “on the table”, subject to the outcome of an 18-month review.