'Natural Evolution' For Business And Council Partnerships
A regulatory initiative launching on Monday 6 April 2009 will provide a single source of advice to businesses operating across several council boundaries.
It is called the Primary Authority scheme and has already been piloted by 13 test partnerships since December 2008.
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) welcomes Primary Authorities as a natural evolution of the existing Home and Lead Authorities.
Ron Gainsford, chief executive of TSI said: 'Trading standards invented the home authority principle, and we continue to be committed to advising and supporting businesses.
'All parties will want to see added value, reinforcing and building on any home and lead authority partnerships already in existence.
'The pilots are hugely important testing both the principle and implementation process.'
While supportive of the scheme, Mr Gainsford said there were still challenges ahead.
He said: 'It is early days for the Primary Authorities. A degree of patience and tolerance will be required during the implementation process and that will apply to the business community, and the trading standards and wider regulatory service community.
'The challenge comes in the successful implementation in a way that meets the needs of business and also the needs of trading standards and other regulatory services.'
Mr Gainsford said that TSI wanted to see the Primary Authority scheme to be as holistic and inclusive as possible and added: 'We want to see the scheme consistent across the UK, while remaining sensitive to the challenges posed by devolution.'
Notes to Editors:
The key aspects of Primary Authorities are:
Regardless of its size, any business trading across council boundaries has the opportunity to form a partnership with a single local authority in relation to regulatory compliance. These agreements can cover all environmental health and trading standards legislation, or specific functions such as food safety or petroleum licensing.
A central register of the partnerships, held on the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) website, provides an authoritative reference source for businesses and councils.
If a business cannot find an appropriate partner, it can ask LBRO to find a suitable local authority to work with.
A primary authority provides robust and reliable advice on compliance that other councils must take into account, and may produce a national inspection plan to co-ordinate activity.
Before other councils impose sanctions on a company, including formal notices and prosecutions, they must contact the primary authority to see whether the actions are contrary to appropriate advice it has previously issued. However, this requirement to consult is waived if consumers or workers are at immediate risk. Where the authorities cannot agree, the issue can be referred to LBRO for a ruling, which is made within 28 days.
The question of resourcing the partnership is up to the councils and businesses concerned. Where necessary, a primary authority can recover the costs of providing this additional service.
The scheme applies throughout the UK, but with regard to relevant powers in each of the devolved areas.
Trading Standards Institute
The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.
TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.
They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.
Local Better Regulation Office - 0121 226 4000
The Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) was set up as a government-owned company in May 2007 to help local authorities improve the way they enforce trading standards, environmental health, licensing and fire safety regulations.
It became a non-departmental public body with statutory powers on 1 October 2008 with commencement of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act.
LBRO's role is to improve local authority enforcement of environmental health, trading standards and licensing - reducing burdens on businesses that comply with the law while targeting those who flout it.
Its overall aim is to secure the effective performance of local authority regulatory services in accordance with the principles of better regulation and the Government is legislating to give it powers to deliver that purpose.
Its focus is on ensuring that inspection and enforcement are based on an assessment of risk, so that businesses are supported and regulatory resources are focused on those areas that most deserve tougher scrutiny.
LBRO will also be working to ensure that businesses - particularly those that operate across council boundaries - receive greater consistency in advice, support and inspection from local authorities.