HSE Fee For Intervention Scheme: Where are we now?
Following on from our earlier article about this new means of charging businesses for the time spent by a Health and Safety Executive ("HSE") Inspector visiting a business and identifying that there has been a "material breach", figures are now available to demonstrate the impact of the scheme so far.
From 1 December 2012 to 31 January 2013, a total of 3,062 HSE inspections were carried out, of which 1,807 resulted in the business investigated being issued with an invoice for a Fee for Intervention ("FFI"). This means that Fees for Intervention were charged in over half of all of the inspections carried out.
The invoices raised during this 2 month period amounted to approximately £857,000 revenue for the Government meaning that the average invoice was in the region of £474.27.
There have been 89 challenges to invoices raised by businesses unhappy with the amount charged or the reasons for being charged.
Of the 89 challenges, 26 invoices have been amended in favour of the recipient business, 13 challenges remain unresolved and 50 invoices were unchanged. These 50 recipients, having gone through the review process now must pay not only the invoiced FFI, but also the cost of the HSE's time spent dealing with the challenge.
The rate of invoices being challenged does seem proportionately low. 89 challenges from 1,807 issued invoices is a rate of challenge of just under 5%. This may be for one of a number of reasons;
- That the business has not sought legal advice and/or has not appreciated that there is a process to challenge the FFI invoice.
- That the business considers that the invoice is justified and has therefore accepted the fee.
- That the business does not wish to "rock the boat" for fear of encouraging further scrutiny from the HSE.
Whatever the reason, it seems that the HSE is doing little to dissuade businesses that the FFI is not just an indirect tax.
If your business is the subject of a HSE inspection or the recipient of an invoice for a FFI, it is advisable to seek appropriate advice so as to limit the potential cost to the business and any health and safety liability generally.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.