From the 1st October 2017 all UK businesses can benefit from being part of the Primary Authority Scheme. This also applies to charities, trade associations and membership bodies.
Businesses can form a partnership with a local authority to provide advice other local regulators must respect. The 'Primary Authority: a guide for businesses' can be viewed here.
Ashfords Business Regulatory Consultancy strongly advocates Primary Authority and we have been advising and guiding our clients to find suitable Local Authority (LA) partners in trading standards, environmental health and fire safety.
We coordinate the relationships to ensure that the business gets the best service and benefits from the full range of protections.
Lucy Windler, Hugo Boss Health and Safety Manager UK, Northern Europe and Middle East said:
“We have just started in our journey along the primary authority partnership facilitated by Ashfords and already it has proven to be a very valuable exercise. The support and guidance given has been something we just couldn’t have achieved on our own. I can see it is going to be a very positive experience”.
Top tips when thinking about Primary Authority for your business;
- Does the LA have the right knowledge and expertise related to your business activities?
- What do you want to get out of the relationship?
- How are you going to get the most out of the primary authority protections?
- How much do they charge?
- What are the service level agreements?
You will sign a contract and this is the time to detail the arrangements between the parties:
- How will you communicate, how many meetings a year will you have, who is your single point of contact?
- Do they have a long standing and well-funded specialist primary authority department?
- What other Primary Authority Partnerships do they have?
- Are you confident that you are creating a sustainable long term relationship?
- Who is going to manage the relationship in house?
- How is your business going to act on information received, escalate issues and report on activity?
You cannot sign up and do nothing and expect to benefit from the protections. Primary Authority is a commitment to work together to improve business compliance.
Primary Authority is not about gold plating, but doing the right thing and can allow you to save money by agreeing flexibilities and ultimately inspections plans, which will mean that you have fewer visits from regulators.
With an extension and simplification of the scheme, supported by an improved Primary Authority Register there are single points of contact in local authorities for assured regulatory advice.
Approximately 90% of businesses in Primary Authority partnerships are small and medium enterprises. It is estimated that over 250,000 businesses will benefit from Primary Authority as a result of these changes.
The changes will simplify how businesses are able to comply with regulations through the Primary Authority scheme, enabling owners to choose to work with a single local authority as opposed to several.
What are the two types of partnership?
A business can form its own direct partnership, receiving Primary Authority Advice tailored to its specific needs or a business can belong to a trade association (or other type of group) to benefit from a co-ordinated primary authority. In this case, the Primary Authority Advice is still from the primary authority, but provided via the trade association, and tailored to the general needs of its members.
What do Primary Authorities do?
Primary authorities provide advice to businesses that other local regulators must respect on compliance with the regulations. They can also produce an inspection plan for a business or the members of a trade association (or other type of group), to improve the effectiveness of visits by local regulators and underpin better sharing of information.
What are the benefits of Primary Authority?
Businesses have access to advice and guidance and gain recognition for robust compliance arrangements. They can be confident that they are protecting themselves and their customers by effectively meeting business regulations.
Regulators have greater clarity over where responsibility lies and can improve the consistency of local regulation.
The Primary Authority Register
The Primary Authority Register is the secure online service that supports the operation of the scheme. It contains details on every partnership, provides a forum for communications, and allows primary authorities to make key documents and business information readily available to local regulators.