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| 05.01.2012

TUC dismisses Downing Street health and safety claims

Please find below a Number 10 press release which contains what is probably the most open attack on health and safety so far to come from the Prime Minister.

The TUC has issued a press release saying:

TUC dismisses Downing Street health and safety claims Dismissing Downing Street claims that UK businesses are in a “stranglehold” of health and safety ‘red tape’ and compensation claims, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 

“This shows just how out of touch with the reality of working life Number 10 is. Every government report on the UK’s supposed compensation culture has shown it to be a myth, and in fact claims have been declining over the past decade. Despite this the government seems hell-bent on trying to stop workers injured by their employers’ negligence being able to claim compensation.

“Workers will be astonished by the claim that there is an “excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses”. The truth is that there are two million people in the UK who have an illness or injury caused by their work – the vast majority of which could have been prevented had their employer had taken the correct safety precautions. 

“Nor do businesses “battle against a tide of risk assessment forms every year”. The vast majority of employers never carry out any kind of written risk assessments, and for those that do, there is easy-to-understand advice available on how to do them from the Health and Safety Executive. 

“It is clear that Downing Street does not have a clue about what life is like for the millions of ordinary people who work in shops, offices, schools, factories, call centres and other workplaces across the UK. Instead it is making policy in response to grumbles from the business lobby and the rantings of right-wing commentators.”

In addition the Evening Standard is covering the story at:


Number 10 Downing Street

The official site of the British Prime Minister's Office

Business boosting measures announced

Thursday 5 January 2012

Tackling the compensation culture and freeing business from the stranglehold of red tape are part of measures announced to back enterprise by David Cameron today.

External site: Red Tape Challenge

External site: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

External site: Businesslink

Tackling the compensation culture and freeing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape are part of a series of measures announced to back enterprise by Prime Minister David Cameron today.

Speaking to an audience of small businesses and entrepreneurs at Intuit UK in Maidenhead, David Cameron announced that:

  • to tackle the compensation culture and address the fear from businesses of being sued for trivial or excessive claims – we will extend the current scheme that caps the amount that lawyers can earn from small value personal injury claims, and reduce overall costs in cases funded by ‘no win no fee’ deals. This will help bring down the cost of many cases and deter the speculative health and safety claims made against good businesses that would appear not to have done anything wrong.
  • the health and safety law on strict liability for civil claims will be changed so that businesses are no longer automatically at fault if something goes wrong.
  • we will investigate the demands made by insurance companies on businesses to ensure that levels of compliance do not force businesses to go far beyond what is actually required by the the law to secure their insurance cover.
  • we will write to the Chief Executives of all major insurance companies, asking them to set out what they will do to deal with this problem – and they will be invited to a meeting at Downing Street next month to set out their plans.

The Prime Minister also announced that next month we will ask organisations to bid to manage the £1bn of Government funding available through the Business Finance Partnership.  This fund will help businesses access the finance they need to grow.

David Cameron said:

“I am determined that we do everything possible to take the brakes off business: cutting taxes; slashing red tape; putting billions into big infrastructure projects; making it much easier for British firms to get out there and trade with the world.

“And there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.

“Talk of ‘health and safety’ can too often sound farcical or marginal. But for British businesses – especially the smaller ones that are so vital to the future of our economy – this is a massively important issue. Every day they battle against a tide of risk assessment forms and face the fear of being sued for massive sums. The financial cost of this culture runs into the billions each year.

“So this coalition has a clear New Year’s resolution: to kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all.”