FFI was designed to recover costs incurred by the HSE during regulatory action against organisations that fail to comply with safety and health law, thus transferring the financial burden from the taxpayer to the business.
The new charge came into effect on 6 April 2019 and it is the second increase since the scheme was introduced in October 2012. The rate first went up in 2016, from £124. In a statement, the HSE said this can be attributed in part to the fact that the scheme has operated recently at a deficit.
In 2017/18 the HSE reported a £1.9m loss from running FFI after the £15m it generated from fines to businesses was offset by its operating costs, which totalled almost £17m.
It said: “HSE’s cost recovery rate for FFI will increase to £154 per hour with effect from 6 April 2019. This means that businesses that are found to be in material breach of health and safety law will be charged at this new rate. As now, those businesses that meet their legal requirements will not pay anything for HSE’s regulatory activity.
“HSE must set the FFI rate with the aim of recovering its full cost and in recent years it has operated at a deficit (i.e. cost more than recovered in income). A combination of this and cumulative inflationary pressures support the increased hourly rate.”
A material breach is defined by the HSE as “something which an inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken”.