The 'Regulatory Companion' brings together business advisers from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards and Peterborough City Council Environmental Health and Licensing teams to provide businesses with a single point of access to regulatory advice and support services.
Through this team, you are able to access comprehensive advice on any aspect of Trading Standards, Environmental Health or Licensing legislation. The team also offers auditing services, sampling and testing services, inspection plans, horizon scanning and staff training.
These services are chargeable, either on an hourly rate basis or on an annual fee basis under a 'Primary Authority' agreement.
What is Primary Authority and what are the benefits of it?
Primary Authority is a national scheme introduced and overseen by Government whereby a business enters an ongoing advisory agreement with a local authority. Under Primary Authority, advice is deemed to be 'assured' making it very hard for any other authority in the UK to challenge the actions of a business who has acted on this advice. This gives valuable piece of mind to a business who, for example, might be wishing to invest tens of thousands into new product lines without the risk of legal challenge and forced product withdrawal by another authority. It is available to any business, large or small, in any sector, whether local or based elsewhere in the UK.
Primary Authority has fundamentally shifted our relationship with businesses, large or small, by introducing an ongoing relationship of openness and trust between regulators and businesses. Businesses seek advice early before commercial decisions are made, ensuring corrective work isn't needed further down the line as a result of non-compliance. Take up by business has been strong, recognising the considerable benefit of taking advice direct from the regulators.
Why enter a Primary Authority Agreement with the Regulatory Companion?
The Regulatory Companion is one of the national leads on Primary Authority, being recognised as a Centre of Excellence by the Government. Its dedicated Primary Authority advisers excel in their field and have representation on several influential national panels, as well as strong links with Government bodies. A number of its advisers come from a commercial background, instilling them with an understanding of the regulatory challenges faced by businesses and the ability to find practical solutions to these challenges. Additionally, they have extensive experience of working across the full spectrum of business types, from sole traders and rural enterprises to multi-national corporations.
Regulatory Companion has over 100 Primary Authority partnerships in place, with major names in the UK business sector including:
- B&M Home Stores
- Hotel Chocolat
- John West
- Bernard Matthews
- Del Monte
- British Sugar
- John Adams
- Anglian Water
- Activity Superstore
Our predominant client base is the food and drink industry and the product safety sector, given the extensive legislation that applies to these markets. Despite many of our clients having extensive legal and quality assurance teams, they recognise the value of having a regulator working alongside their team to guide them on legal interpretation and practical compliance, with the knowledge that we will resist legal action from other authorities on their behalf where their authority has a differing interpretation of the law. We resisted one such action last year and are in the process of resisting another at present. This is of tremendous value to our clients, giving them the confidence to invest and make decisions based on our advice.
In terms of our knowledge and experience, we are unrivalled in these sectors, with our advisers sitting on National Trading Standards Food Panel, BEIS Supermarkets Group, BEIS Age Restricted Sales Expert Panel and the National Primary Authority Panel - demonstrable of the influence they have in these fields.
As well as supporting well-established businesses with ongoing compliance advice, we also work with ground-breaking companies looking to introduce innovative products to market which perhaps fall within the greyer areas of legislation. Our extensive expertise enable us to confidently interpret the legislation in such areas and, in cases of ambiguity, seek the views of our esteemed colleagues within Government and within our networks to enable us to provide you with assured advice that we will stand by.
To find out more about Primary Authority and the services we offer, please watch our video.
What our clients say
"Working with teams in other countries where authorities give little or no advice has made the UK system a clear advantage. Understanding authorities' interpretation and gaining guidance has enabled confidence in decision making and helped make clearer messaging to consumers possible."
"The Primary Authority scheme, as delivered by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards Service, provides us with a consistently high level of regulatory support. Of particular note is their willingness to engage with, and listen to, the needs of our business before providing assured advice of real value. A top class service."
"Given that our product range is appealing to children our due diligence has to be robust but at the same time commercially realistic - Mark offers knowledgeable, pragmatic solutions and opens up dialogue through networks which wouldn't ordinarily be apparent to us nor necessarily visible or accessible. The PA Partnership with Peterborough City Council offers unprecedented value for money and support that adds value and gravitas to our Quality Assurance process."
"We have found the pragmatic and flexible approach provided by our Primary Authority (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards) both helpful and supportive of our wider business."
"As a New Zealand fruit snack manufacturer, setting up in the UK was a daunting task, given the complex EU laws on packaging materials, wrappers, nutritional information, and a plethora of other areas we were just not able to address. From Mark, we received clear guidance, advice, and suggested amendments to packs and wrappers, and ultimately approval to go to market, knowing that every item we were producing met UK and EU laws."
"We have really benefitted from having a single point of contact. We have been able to build a relationship with Nichola which has really helped us to make decisions together that drive the performance of our business. The scheme and engagement with our Primary Authority gives us reassurance that the decisions we make together are the right ones - working in partnership is the best way forward."
"We are absolutely delighted to formalise our primary authority partnership this month. We are a family run business and always welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with local authorities and regulators. This helps us keep up to date with current legislation and guidelines. On the environment health side, the food safety rating is often the first thing our visitors see when they walk through the front door. It is vitally important we have direct access to assured and current advice from both the environmental health as well as the Trading Standards experts at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough councils."
Hear first-hand from George May, Managing Director of Bio-Bean, one of our SME partners, on how his business benefits from having a Primary Authority partnership with us.
Should my business opt for Primary Authority or chargeable business advice?
Generally speaking, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) tend to use our chargeable business advice service for infrequent, ad hoc enquiries. The hourly charge for advice of this nature is £72 per hour plus VAT. Terms and conditions apply.
Larger businesses tend to enter a Primary Authority relationship with us, recognising the tremendous benefit of assured advice as well as the benefits of an ongoing partnership with local authority regulators, giving them confidence in major commercial decision making and in their wider systems and operations.
The annual fee is £288 which provides three hours of advice from any of our teams - Trading Standards, Environmental Health or Licensing. Thereafter additional hours are charged at £72 per hour. VAT does not apply to Primary Authority charges. The scheme is overseen by Government and the national terms and conditions can be viewed on the GOV.UK website.
Apply for chargeable business advice
Please note charges for advice have been waived for any small and medium enterprises (SMEs) seeking advice on the business closure requirements or any compliance issues caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19). Tick the box within the online form below to confirm what you are requesting is exempt from usual charges.
Terms and conditions
Apply for a Primary Authority relationship
To apply for a Primary Authority relationship, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business guidance available online
We have seen a succession of legislative changes recently, with more on the horizon. To assist your business in navigating this legislation, we have prepared some guidance for business on legislation changes.
You can also find extensive self-help guidance on how certain legislation applies to your business activities, which licences you require or what provisions apply to your start-up business on the GOV.UK website.
- Starting up a business - GOV.UK website
- Food, catering and retail - GOV.UK website
- Farming - GOV.UK website
- Sale of goods and services, and data protection - GOV.UK website
- Online and distance selling - GOV.UK website
- Doorstep selling - GOV.UK website
- Trademarks, Copyright and intellectual Property - GOV.UK website
- Licences and licence applications - GOV.UK website. For the list of licences issued by Trading Standards or to apply for a licence from us please visit our licensing pages.
For those in the retail sector, you can also access comprehensive regulatory advice and guidance on the Business Companion website.
Advice for business in relation to Brexit can be found on our Understanding the Brexit process webpage.
Connecting you with local business support bodies
Regulatory Companion has strong links with a wide range of outstanding business support organisations, including Chamber of Commerce, FSB, Institute of Directors, the Growth Hub, Opportunity Peterborough and Business & IP Centre. Three videos have been produced to help you navigate your way to the most suitable support for your business.
If you are in dispute with a consumer or another business and need some advice on what to do next, then contact our advice partner the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or complete their online enquiry form, where trained advisers can give free advice over the phone or online.
Trading Standards are getting an increasing number of complaints from businesses who feel they have been 'scammed' or 'ripped off' by other so called 'businesses'. For more information on business scams, please visit the Action Fraud website.