The TUC has condemned this week's Budget as a series of measures 'for the rich by the rich' incorporating a 'regurgitated mish-mash' of pro-business moves that tell employers safety is unimportant and can be ignored. Deregulation of health and safety got top billing in chancellor George Osborne's 21 March announcement of measures for 'supply-side reform of the economy.' The budget statement said: 'The government will scrap or improve 84 per cent of health and safety regulation' and added other measures would include the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) urging the European Commission to introduce 'micro-exemptions or lighter touch EU health and safety regulation' for small and medium-sized firms, 'based on ideas raised during the Red Tape Challenge.' The statement also referred to action with the insurance industry 'in order to tackle the compensation culture' (Risks 543), a phenomenon the government itself has determined does not exist. A statement from TUC noted: 'While this is a regurgitated mish-mash of previously announced moves, presented as a package in this way it highlights the pro-business, anti-worker agenda of this government. Not one of these proposals will do anything to protect the workforce from the epidemic of occupational disease that we have [Risks 547]. Instead it will simply give the message to employers that health and safety is a burden and there is little need for them to give it any priority as there is no chance of them ever being investigated or prosecuted unless they report an injury.' It added the Budget focus on safety deregulation 'shows very clearly exactly why the TUC is organising a Day of Action on 28 April to defend health and safety.' Business lobby group CBI said the deregulatory proposals did not go far enough. 'There needs to be much greater urgency to the government's deregulatory agenda,' said CBI director-general John Cridland. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber described the chancellor's announcement as 'a Budget for the rich by the rich.'
Issued: 23 March, 2012