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H&S red tape shouldn’t force charity shops to close

Charities do not need to hire expensive health and safety (H&S) consultants to risk assess their shops, employment minister Chris Grayling said.

Grayling was responding to anecdotal reports that some charity shops have hired H&S ‘experts’ only to be given incorrect advice, telling them to put in place expensive and unnecessary H&S plans. This might cause some charities, including those dealing with textiles, to close down.

The minister’s statement was made as part of the Government’s war on red tape, although his statement is only clarification and no new simplification in policy has taken place.

He said in a statement yesterday: “Let’s be clear about this – there is nothing in the legislation to say that charities must hire expensive health and safety consultants to risk assess their charity shops. This is another example of the health and safety cowboys taking advantage of small organisations, and is putting an unfair strain on the purse strings of organisations at the heart of our communities. 

“We need to put common sense back at the heart of Britain’s H&S system, and root out needless bureaucracy so we can encourage our voluntary sector and businesses to prosper.”

Charity Retail Association chief executive Warren Alexander welcomed the clarification but added: “It’s not to say that charity shops do not have a responsibility and obligation to protect their workers. All the same H&S legislation applies – we’re not getting let off any legislation.”

An Independent review of H&S legislation has been set up by the Government with the aim of simplification, and this will report in the autumn.

Grayling is also now responsible for taking forward recommendations made by Lord Young in June 2010 in his Whitehall-wide review of H&S. All of the recommendations, including one to set up a directory of H&S experts, were accepted by the Government.

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