Finance and resources
To unlock the full benefits of Primary Authority, partnerships need to be properly resourced. Local authorities have reported that businesses are willing to make a financial contribution when the charges are reasonable and justified. They view agreements in commercial terms, with the necessary investment being offset by the anticipated savings achieved through more efficient enforcement.
Local authorities can recover costs incurred in providing Primary Authority, with reference to the guidance issued by HM Treasury in Annex 6.2 of Managing Public Money. One option is to give a basic level of compliance advice to businesses for free while charging for additional services. This is fair and in line with the Regulators' Compliance Code.
Whatever approach is adopted, all local authorities should have a Primary Authority policy listing the factors that will be taken into account when forming a partnership and clarifying the level of support offered to businesses. This should extend to a clear statement on the resourcing of agreements. Where charging arrangements are included, transparency and accountability are paramount considerations. For example, if cost recovery is undertaken on the basis of an hourly rate, then a time-recording system is essential.
"Our innovative partnership is a one-stop shop embracing the broadest range of local authority regulation from food safety to environmental protection. It ensures that our customers benefit from a consistent, risk-based approach to regulation."
Tesco Operations and Standards Director for Trading Law and Technical Carole Payne - 08/11/10