The UK’s enforcement gap

From tackling climate change and improving children’s health, to ensuring our food and products are safe, common sense rules underpin a fair, prosperous society where people are protected and decent businesses can thrive.

But these protections are only as good as the enforcement that guarantees them. Our research has found that over many years, the UK’s enforcement capacity has been greatly eroded. Steep budget cuts and falling staff numbers have resulted in serious declines in enforcement activity – from water quality testing, checks on food products and air quality monitoring, to workplace health and safety inspections, consumer product testing and fly tipping prosecutions.

The enforcement gap has led to real social and environmental harms. Sewage pollutes our rivers and seas, fly tipping blights our streets and countryside, wildlife and important habitats are in decline,  employees face dwindling protections at work, and many people suffer the effects of air pollution.