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The home authority principle

As a business operating in the UK, you will need to comply with a wide range of legislation. Local authorities, who are responsible for enforcing much legislation, are there to help by providing advice, guidance and information for your business to comply with that legislation.

For many years local government has operated a scheme referred to as ‘Home Authority’. Usually a business builds up a relationship with the local authority which covers the area of their head office location. Typically, a home authority can carry out a number of roles for your business. For instance, they may:

  • provide contact officer(s) and identify the scope of its home authority service to your business
  • provide advice and guidance when requested to do so
  • visit your business and monitor trends, company policies, etc.
  • ensure your business complies with all relevant legislation
  • act as a contact point for other local authorities that may have queries and complaints about your business

The home authority scheme has proved to be successful and has provided businesses with the following benefits:

  • improve business-wide operating procedures or methods as a result of advice from your home authority on compliance and good practice
  • minimise unnecessary burdens arising from legislation, for example by agreeing, at an early stage, details of how to comply with new requirements or introduce new product lines
  • promote a better understanding and awareness with your home authority of commercial issues in relation to your business
  • provide a route for coordinating and resolving differences between local authorities and your business
  • assist businesses based in that home authority area to trade successfully in other parts of UK

As part of the government’s “Better Regulation” agenda, the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 has paved the way for an extension of the home authority scheme. The new scheme is known as “Primary Authority”. Effectively, primary authority gives statutory backing to the home authority scheme and provides a series of additional benefits. It is currently administered by the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO). These benefits include:

  • these partnerships can cover all environmental health and trading standards legislation, or specific functions such as food safety or petroleum licensing
  • once legally nominated by BRDO, partnerships are automatically recognised by all local regulators. A central register of the partnerships provides an authoritative reference source for businesses and councils
  • by working closely with the business a primary authority can apply regulations to their specific circumstances providing robust and reliable advice. This advice must be respected by all local regulators enabling the business to operate with assurance and confidence
  • a national inspection plan can be produced by the primary authority to improve the effectiveness of inspection, avoid repeated checks, and enable better sharing of information
  • if a problem arises, the primary authority can coordinate enforcement action to ensure that the business is treated consistently and that responses are proportionate to the issue
  • BRDO oversees primary authority and operates a dispute resolution procedure
  • a business can choose what level of support it needs from its primary authority. The question of resourcing the partnership is up to the councils and businesses concerned. Where necessary, a primary authority can recover its costs

How can I set up a Home / Primary authority relationship?

If your business would like to discuss the home authority or primary authority principle, and your head office (or decision making centre) is in South Gloucestershire, please contact us.

We will then advise on the format of any available arrangement. e.g. a formal written agreement under the primary authority scheme or an informal home authority relationship.

You can also find out further information regarding the primary authority scheme from the BRDO website.

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