Plans to scrap EU laws will continue to harm economic growth

  • New survey by IOSH warns that the Government’s plans to continue to consider scrapping EU laws could harm businesses and economic growth.
  • The survey of over 330 professionals reveals more than half believe the Government’s amended Retained EU Law Bill will still cost business more (55%) and could lead to cutbacks in inward economic investment opportunities (53%).
  • Two thirds (63%) anticipate it will increase costs to Government and most are opposed to the Bill in its current form (79%).
  • 70% anticipate there being an increase in deaths as a result of the Bill being implemented in its current form.

IOSH is warning that the Government’s amended plans to scrap EU laws don’t go far enough and will continue to harm economic growth, as a new survey of its members reveals concerns about the impact on businesses and inward investment.

Under proposals in the Retained EU Law Bill, health and safety standards in the UK are still in danger of being scrapped, leading to less productivity, higher insurance premiums for businesses, and increased costs for the Government. In addition, investment into the UK could be jeopardised, with companies already looking to move out of the UK because of the uncertainty which has arisen due to the Bill. Despite health and safety standards not being up for immediate review before the end of the year, the Bill gives Ministers power to remove legislation they deem unfit and this uncertainty will continue to cause chaos for UK businesses.

Over half of the 330 health and safety professionals surveyed say the Bill will cost business more (55%) and could lead to cutbacks in inward investment opportunities (53%). Almost two thirds (63%) anticipate it will increase costs to Government, and 79% are opposed to the Bill.

IOSH is urging ministers to commit to removing provisions in the Bill relating to health and safety entirely. It has returned to the House of Lords this week.

If it goes ahead in its current form, the impact would be felt across the country as the safety and health of workers is a positive driver for business performance, the economy and for sustainable development. Additional burdens placed on businesses as a result of the Bill and the uncertainty it creates may cause workers to take more sick days, people to retire earlier, and greater unemployment resulting from businesses being forced to close. This will lead to an increase in costs to the Government and will undermine its drive to increase the number of people in work.

Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher, Chief Executive of IOSH, said:

“The UK has built a reputation over the last 50 years as a world leader in health and safety, with other countries turning to the robust measures implemented as the gold standard. With a vision for a safe and healthy world of work, IOSH wants to see all countries, including the UK, prevent harm, improve occupational health and safety standards and enhance protection for workers.

“Even in its new form, the REUL Bill still risks negatively impacting both the UK’s reputation as a global leader for health and safety and its economy at what is already an incredibly uncertain time. But it’s not too late as there is still opportunity to protect the status of the UK as a world leader in health and safety. We would welcome the opportunity to partner with the Government to ensure this happens, through robust due diligence and consultation to ensure the key pillars of the UK’s health and safety regulation remain.”

Workers across the UK have the right to live a life free from serious accidental injury and ill health; the REUL Bill puts this severely under threat. Examples of regulations affected would be those that set specific obligations for particular activities such as the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM); the Work at Height Regulations 2005; and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

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Marcus Boocock
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