BEIS working up plans for new labour abuses regulator

Business department also aims to save £10m a year from research councils merger

Business secretary Greg Clark. Photo: PA

By David Blackman

17 Apr 2019

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working up options for creating its new labour market abuses watchdog, according to business secretary Greg Clark. 

Ministers announced in early March that it was pressing ahead with the creation of a single enforcement body for protecting employment rights.

The new body will bring together the relevant functions of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the minimum wage enforcement arm of HM Revenue and Customs, and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).


Writing to Rachel Reeves, chair of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Clark said the government would publish proposals on the new body "shortly".

"As part of the Spending Review we will consider what level of funding is appropriate to ensure that it is adequately resourced to deliver its strengthened remit," he added,

The GLAA investigates reports of exploitation and illegal activity in the workplace, while the EAS safeguards the rights of agency workers.

The new body would have powers to police standards in areas like holiday pay and minimum wages.

In separate correspondence, BEIS permanent secretary Alex Chisholm revealed that the government is seeking £10m worth of annual savings from the merger of the government’s research councils.

Last year BEIS merged the seven councils, which fund R&D by universities and other bodies, with Innovate UK and the related functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England to form an umbrella body, UK Research and Innovation.

Chisholm’s letter to the committee, which followed its recent hearing into the department’s supplementary estimates for 2018-19, said the savings would be achieved via a transformation programme that is kicking off this financial year.

He writes: "It is envisaged that programme will create administrative savings and efficiencies relative to total budget by reviewing both working practices across the former nine organisations (centralisation of common functions) and streamlining systems; once the programme is complete by FY (full year) 2022-23, relative annual savings of £10m are expected."

In response to a question about UKRI’s budget allocations, Chisholm’s letter states £242m, or 3.3% of UKRI’s total £7.3bn budget, was spent on overheads.

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