British Safety Council calls for worker wellbeing to be prioritised as it launches pre-election Manifesto

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British Safety Council is calling on the next UK Government to appoint a dedicated Minister for Wellbeing and introduce a tax offset for businesses that invest in new technologies which drive up health, safety and wellbeing standards in the workplace, as part of a raft of suggested policies aimed at ensuring the next 50 years are the safest on record.

In its Health, Safety, and Wellbeing Manifesto, published on 20 March ahead of a UK General Election that is widely expected to take place later this year, British Safety Council also called for health, safety and wellbeing training required by law to be included in a new Skills Tax Credit, and for “adequate funding” to be made available for bodies holding regulatory and investigatory powers (including the Health and Safety Executive, the Buildings Safety Regulator and local authorities).

The Manifesto sets out seven asks across four policy areas, each with the goal of supporting productivity and growth while prioritising the health, safety and happiness of the UK’s workforce. The policy areas are regulation; wellbeing; technology and the future of work; and skills.

British Safety Council's Manifesto calls on the next Government to put health, safety and wellbeing at the heart of economic growth. Photograph: iStock/benedek

“This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UK’s groundbreaking Health and Safety at Work Act, which put our country at the forefront of ensuring safer workplaces and helped us become a world leader in workplace health and safety,” said British Safety Council chairman Peter McGettrick. “Ahead of the next General Election, we are calling on all political parties, party leaders and those seeking election to commit to making the next 50 years the safest in our nation’s history.”

British Safety Council chief executive Mike Robinson wants the next UK Government to take a “truly joined-up approach” to health, safety and wellbeing. In addition to the creation of a Ministerial portfolio dedicated to wellbeing, the Manifesto calls for the development and implementation of a National Wellbeing Strategy.

The call to put wellbeing at the heart of economic growth follows the publication earlier this year of multiple surveys signalling high levels of stress and burnout among UK workers. Data published in November by the HSE showed that of the 1.8 million people suffering from a work-related illness in 2022-23, almost half had stress, depression or anxiety caused by their jobs.

The UK lost an estimated 32.5 million days to work-related ill-health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2022-23, and sickness and illness are at a 10-year high, costing businesses and the economy up to £77.5 billion a year.

New and developing technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) can play a vital role in improving workplace health, safety and wellbeing in the future. British Safety Council is therefore calling for investment in these technologies to be incentivised through the introduction of a corporation tax credit, which would enable businesses making such investments to offset up to 5% of their associated annual costs.

Employers should also be allowed to offset a portion of their spending on health, safety and wellbeing training through the introduction of a Skills Tax Credit, according to the Manifesto. The next Government should introduce this “at the earliest opportunity”, as part of future reforms to skills-based education.

On the regulation side, the Manifesto emphasises that it is “essential” for the HSE (including the Building Safety Regulator) and local authorities who hold statutory duties for the regulation and inspection of health and safety to be properly funded.

“We want to see adequate resources allocated to those responsible for regulating health, safety and wellbeing at work, especially the Health and Safety Executive, which despite the progress that’s been made in reducing fatalities and injuries at work has seen nearly 20 per cent of its funding cut since 2010,” said Robinson.


Download a copy of British Safety Council’s Manifesto here.


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