Business Minister Michael Fallon today (27 February 2014) pledged to bring the benefits of Primary Authority to more hard-pressed businesses, trade associations and local authorities, announcing that 1,000 enterprises now need to spend less time dealing with regulation thanks to the scheme.
Through Primary Authority, local authorities are delivering improved and more consistent regulatory advice and enforcement in areas including trading standards and environmental health.
This reduces unnecessary bureaucracy that would otherwise be a barrier to growth. Primary Authority particularly benefits small firms like independent butchers, grocers, removals firms, builders’ merchants and independent retailers that can least afford to deal with complex or inconsistent regulation.
There are now 3,367 Primary Authority partnerships with 115 local authorities participating in the scheme, including Cornwall, Cambridgeshire, Leeds and Westminster Councils.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said:
The government is waging war on red tape, and Primary Authority is successfully placing the needs of business at the heart of local regulation. We will continue to extend the scheme, enabling many more small enterprises to avoid unnecessary inspections and unwanted paperwork.
The Primary Authority scheme enables businesses to enter into a partnership agreement with a single local authority, either directly or through trade associations, franchises or other eligible business groups. The local authority (the primary authority) then provides robust and reliable advice for other councils to take into account when carrying out inspections or dealing with non-compliance.
From October 2013, members of franchises and trade associations have been able to form Primary Authority partnerships with local authorities. Through these partnerships, their members receive assured regulatory advice and guidance from 1 place - and all local authorities must ensure their enforcement activities are consistent with this advice. The government, through its Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO), is encouraging more trade associations and business groups to participate in the scheme.
Brian Young, Director General, British Frozen Food Federation said:
The British Frozen Food Federation have been pleased to have worked with BRDO in piloting the extension of Primary Authority to groups of businesses adopting a shared approach to compliance and to be 1 of the first Trade Associations to enter the scheme. Doing the right thing and achieving legal compliance is very important to our members and we believe that our partnerships with Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council on Food Hygiene and Health and Safety and Cambridgeshire County Council on Food Standards and labelling will prove of considerable assistance to our members. We are already seeing a high level of interest from members for the planned further extension into Fire Safety in April 2014.
David Oliver, Head of Regulation, National Federation of Property Professionals said:
The National Federation of Property Professionals are pleased to have entered a Primary Authority partnership with Warwickshire County Council on behalf of our members. Many of our members are small businesses for whom achieving clarity and consistency of interpretation on regulatory requirements is very important. The less time they have to spend on the detail of regulation the more time they can spend on their customers to grow their businesses.
Diana Axby, The Specialist Cheesemakers Association said:
We are very enthusiastic about our new Primary Authority partnership with Cornwall Council which will help to deliver improved understanding and consistency of approach by regulators to our members. Time is always at a premium in a small business – if our members can be given more certainty as to what they need to do in respect of regulatory issues this will give them confidence that they are doing the right thing, allowing them to devote more time to other aspects of their businesses.
Notes to editors
For more information about Primary Authority and the BRDO visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/better-regulation-delivery-office
Partnerships can be formed in relation to environmental health and trading standards legislation, or specific functions such as food safety or petroleum licensing.
Once legally nominated by BRDO, partnerships are automatically recognised by all local regulators. A central register of the partnerships provides an authoritative reference source.
By working closely with the business a primary authority can apply regulations to their specific circumstances, providing robust and reliable advice which must be respected by all local regulators.
The Primary Authority can coordinate enforcement action to ensure that the business is treated consistently and that responses are proportionate to the issue.
The scheme is due to be extended to fire safety later this year (2014).
The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:
- to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe
Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.