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30th October 2017

Fee for intervention – New Appeal Process

What’s happened?

As reported on in a recent blog (click here), and in response to court proceedings – the HSE’s fee for intervention (FFI) scheme has recently been amended to include a fairer, more impartial appeals process.

FFI

FFI is the HSE’s change-back scheme which forces non-compliant business to pay the cost of enforcement action taken against them. When the scheme was introduced in 2012 the HSE did not hide the fact that it would help it to plug a gap in its finances created by government austerity measures in cutting its budget.

The amount generated has climbed steadily, with £15 million charged to businesses in 2015/16 (this is the most recent annual figure available).

This astonishing figure had accumulated from charges of £129 per hour of inspectors’ time, with the average bill now being in the region of £700 per intervention!

What if you disagree?

If Inspectors decide that there are “material breeches”, any of the time they spend on the visit to your business then the follow-up action is chargeable. Because of the potential for individual inspector bias, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement, which may lead to businesses quite rightly making an appeal.

The appeal procedure is published on the HSE’s website (click here). The first stage is a “query” and is assessed for free by the inspector’s line manager. However, if you’re not happy with the outcome, you can escalate your query to a “dispute”. This is the part of the process that has recently changed.

Dispute

Under the threat of a Judicial Review for being unfair to businesses, the HSE has recently moved to make the second stage of the procedure fully independent.

The revised dispute process was introduced in September 2017. Rather than involving HSE Inspectors – the panel for disputes now compromises of a lawyer and two independent persons with experience of health and safety in the work place.

These changes will only affect you in the unlikely event that you appeal against an FFI bill to the second stage.

How do I dispute my FFI Bill?

Firstly – Clients of Lighthouse can always utilise their H&S Consultants to assist in any FFI dispute.

To complain about an invoice, the first step is to first step is to email feeforinterventions@hse.gov.uk or call 0300 033 190.

If you are not happy with the outcome of the initial compliant, you must either pay or raise a dispute within 30 days.

The dispute will then be heard by the panel who will review the legality of the invoice and whether the time you’ve been charged for is reasonable. Be warned though…… If you lose, you’ll have to pay the original fee plus an as yet unknown “additional fee for the costs of the panel considering your dispute”.

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