Business development · 15 February 2017

Small businesses to receive improved access to local regulatory advice

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Businesses will gain greater assured regulatory advice via local UK authorities from 1 October 2017

The government has announced changes to its Primary Authority scheme, giving businesses greater access to assured regulatory advice via local UK authorities.

From 1 October 2017, the scheme will be extended and simplified to include businesses of any size as well as “pre startups”, and will be backed up by an improved Primary Authority Register – the government’s online regulatory resource for business.

Regulatory Delivery, one arm of the newly-created Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has been tasked with implementing the updated scheme.

It has recently launched a consultation, with the aim of “unlocking the potential” of the Primary Authority.

It has sought views from UK business owners, groups and local authorities, to improve delivery of the scheme, which was first introduced in 2009.

New measures could include listing national regulators, given their ability to support Primary Authority partnerships, and a simplification of the definition of an “enforcement action”.

The consultation will also seek to update the definitions of functions within the remit of the Primary Authority in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and move to a system where a partnership covers all regulatory functions on offer from a given local authority.

In a statement, a government spokesperson from BEIS said: “Through Primary Authority, the government is giving every business – and every person who wants to start a business – access to reliable, tailored regulatory advice.”

The government predicts more than 250,000 businesses will benefit from the renewed Primary Authority because of the planned changes, with around 90 per cent of those businesses expected to be small firms.

Changes to the Primary Authority scheme will coincide with The Enterprise Act 2016, when it comes into force later this year.

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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