Primary Authority Partnership

Businesses can partner with a local authority for advice on how to comply with trading standards, environmental health and fire safety legislation.

South Cambridgeshire District Council has three Primary Authority Partnerships with large food organisations and this number is growing.

Primary Authority allows your business to form a legal partnership with a local authority (known as the primary authority). The primary authority can provide you with assured, consistent regulatory advice that makes it simpler and easier to comply with environmental health, trading standards and fire safety legislation. Enforcing authorities across the country should respect this advice when regulating your business.

Participating in Primary Authority can give your business greater confidence in your regulated activities and reduce your risk of contravening legislation. Provided that you follow the advice you are given, you can be confident that you are complying with the law.

Primary Authority can also help businesses that operate as part of a group, such as franchisees or members of a trade association.

There are two ways for your business to participate in Primary Authority:

  • your business can form its own partnership with a local authority – this is called a direct partnership
  • your business can be a member of a trade association or other group with a primary authority – this is called a co-ordinated partnership

Any business can participate in Primary Authority, whether it’s an established business or just starting out. A business can choose what type of primary authority best meets its needs.

Direct partnerships can work well for businesses that:

  • have complex needs best addressed through tailored advice
  • operate across a number of local authority areas
  • spend significant time and resource on their compliance activities
  • would benefit from having a single point of contact with a local authority

Businesses with simpler regulatory requirements may benefit from joining similar businesses in a co-ordinated partnership, which is managed on their behalf by a co-ordinator.

A primary authority can provide your business with reliable regulatory advice that’s tailored to your business circumstances.

Enforcing authorities should respect this advice when regulating your business.

Primary Authority Advice can help your business understand:

  • how legal requirements apply to you
  • how you can achieve compliance
  • whether the controls you have in place are acceptable

Primary Authority Advice is assured, which means that provided that you abide by the advice you are given, you won’t need to follow conflicting advice from other sources. Your business should be protected against the risk of enforcement action from enforcing authorities that have different views on what you should be doing to achieve compliance.

A primary authority can provide you with an inspection plan that will govern the way your business is inspected by enforcing officers from any local authority.

An inspection plan sets out how enforcing officers should undertake inspection activity at your business. Enforcing officers should check the Primary Authority Register to see whether an inspection plan exists for your business before they visit.

Provided that your business follows the Primary Authority Advice you’ve been given, you should not face enforcement action from an enforcing authority that has a different view on whether compliance is being achieved.

An enforcing authority has to establish that your business hasn’t followed its Primary Authority Advice before it can take enforcement action against you.

An enforcing authority has to notify your primary authority if it intends to take enforcement action against you. Your primary authority can block the enforcement action if it conflicts with Primary Authority Advice you have been given. There are some limited exemptions from this requirement to notify proposed action, for example where urgent action is required.

If you would like further information about Primary Authority Partnerships, please see the Gov.uk website

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