Signing up to the Primary Authority Scheme

You'd probably be wise to collect your money whenever there was talk of cutting down on red tape, rather than when this rare event actually occurred. So credit where it's due: the Primary Authority (PA) scheme, which came into effect on 6th April 2009 offers companies with nationwide operations an alternative to dealing with a multitude of local councils, each with their own interpretation and policy on environmental health, trading standards and licensing regulations.

The companies who have already signed up (Boots, B&Q, Brasserie Blanc to name a few) may well reflect the sectors who have the most work to do to comply with the regulatory bodies, but the scheme is not restricted to companies operating in strongly regulated areas like catering and pharmaceuticals, and any company has the right to form a statutory partnership with a single local authority.

To take advantage, you would need to find a local authority to sign up to be the primary authority in one or more of the regulatory areas that affect your business, and for the local authority to register the partnership with the LBRO (Local Better Regulation Office)

Once that partnership is in place, your business should benefit from the cost, time-saving and reassurance of dealing with a single authority who knows and understands your business. Crucially the requirement is immediately in place for all other councils to consult the primary authority before carrying out inspections or dealing with suspected areas of non-compliance, so the scope for uncertainty and surprises should be drastically reduced once the partnership is in place.

In theory at least, the incentive for local authorities to sign up is the likelihood of attracting inward investment and employment opportunities from organizations who can see a track record from councils who offer this robust and reliable service. So if have a business based in York, and would like to reduce your bureaucratic burden, get in touch with the council and find out what they have to say. We'd be very interested to hear how it goes.

Thanks for reading.

Email the author: Neil Ferguson