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Primary Authority

The primary authority scheme is a way to regulate businesses that operate across council boundaries. Its key impacts depend on the particular circumstances of the business, but include reducing the cost of compliance, reducing risk, and reducing the cost of failure.

The primary authority scheme provides the opportunity for businesses to form a statutory partnership with a single local authority, which then provides robust and reliable advice for other councils to take into account when carrying out inspections and dealing with non-compliance.

The Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) co-ordinates the scheme, including approving and registering all primary authorities. Where a primary authority is registered, any other local authority (known as an ‘enforcing authority’) proposing to take enforcement action against a business within the scheme must contact the primary authority first. The primary authority can then challenge the proposed enforcement action, if it believes it to be inconsistent with advice or guidance that it has previously provided. BRDO will determine any disputes between a primary authority, or a business, and an enforcing authority.

The cost of the scheme depends on the size of the business and what level of involvement the local authority has. As a guide, the cost for 1 hour of local authority time is £50 (routine inspections will not be charged for).

More information is available at www.bis.gov.uk/brdo. There is more guidance here along with an application form.

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