What Primary Authority is and the benefits of it
Primary Authority is a national scheme introduced and overseen by the Government. A business enters an ongoing advisory agreement with a local authority.
Under Primary Authority, the compliance advice we give is deemed to be ‘assured’. This makes it very hard for any other authority in the UK to challenge the actions of a business that acted on our advice. This gives valuable piece of mind to a business who, for example may wish to invest tens of thousands into new product lines and wants to minimise the risk of legal challenge and forced product withdrawal by another authority.
Primary Authority is available to any business, large or small, in any sector, whether local or based elsewhere in the UK and trading in England.
Primary Authority has fundamentally shifted our relationship with businesses by introducing an ongoing relationship of openness and trust between regulators and businesses. Businesses seek advice early before commercial decisions are made. This ensures corrective work isn’t needed further down the line due to non-compliance.
Take up by business has been strong, recognising the considerable benefit of taking advice direct from the regulators.
Our dedicated Primary Authority advice team - the 'Regulatory Companion'
The ‘Regulatory Companion’ brings together business advisers from Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing to provide businesses with a single point of access to regulatory advice and support services.
Through our team, you can access comprehensive advice on any aspect of Trading Standards, Environmental Health or Licensing legislation. We also offer:
- Technical legal advice
- Interpretation and practical application of regulations to the specific business operations
- Support when dealing with other regulators
- Labelling and marketing checking service
- Support building a robust due diligence compliance system
- Extensive network of contacts across local and national government, laboratories and national experts
- Formal advice on compliance
- Auditing services
- Sampling and testing services
- Inspection plans
- Horizon scanning
- Staff training
This a chargeable advice service. We have a simple fee structure with an annual fee which includes three hours of advice. Then as many hours as you choose bolted on thereafter as and when you need them, charged at our hourly rate. More information about our fees is available further down the page.
Why you should enter a Primary Authority agreement with the Regulatory Companion
The Regulatory Companion is one of the national leads on Primary Authority. It’s recognised as a Centre of Excellence by the Government.
Our dedicated Primary Authority advisers excel in their field and have representation on several influential panels, as well as strong links with Government bodies. Many advisers come from a commercial background, instilled with an understanding of the regulatory challenges faced by businesses. They have 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 multinational corporations.
Our current partnerships
Our Regulatory Companion team has around 130 Primary Authority partnerships in place, with major names in the UK business sector including
- Aldi UK
- Anglian Water
- B&M Retail Ltd
- Bernard Matthews
- British Sugar and Silver Spoon
- Del Monte
- Hain Daniels
- Holland & Barrett
- Hotel Chocolat
- Huws Gray
- John Adams
- John West
- Kettle Foods Ltd
- Marshall Motor Group Ltd
- Nando’s Chicken Land Ltd
- Nomad Foods - Bird's Eye, Goodfellas, Aunt Bessie
- Vindis Group Ltd
- We Are The One (WATO)
We also partner with business organisations which represent a group of other businesses, allowing all those businesses to access our Primary Authority advice service under a coordinated partnership. Examples include:
- British Frozen Food Federation
- Glass and Glazing Federation
- Provisions Trade Federation
To find out more about Primary Authority, the benefits it offers and about our dedicated advice team, please view our video.
'Our Primary Authority partnership allows us to understand and manage the risks and opportunities in a really robust, efficient way. Excellent service, good value for money. Really knowledgeable contact - supportive to our business wherever possible.'
'I have been suitably impressed with the professionalism of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough having moved our partnership here from another PA. Billing is clear and time spent on tasks well documented. I also feel confident that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are representing my business in the best way when liaising with Government departments on our behalf.'
'The advice that we are given by PA partnership helps us give our customers reliable information so that they can avoid mis-labelling or taking a product to market that is not meeting UK regulations.'
'The partnership with TS provides us with solid, assured advice on matters where we may feel unsure on something. This enables us to ensure that the advice provided downstream to our clients is also solid.'
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. This is 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. This is of tremendous value to our clients, giving them the confidence to invest and make decisions based on our advice.
Our knowledge and experience
In terms of our knowledge and experience, we are unrivalled in these sectors. Demonstrating the influence they have in these fields, our advisers sit on:
- National Trading Standards Food Panel
- BEIS Supermarkets Group
- BEIS Age Restricted Sales Expert Panel
- National Primary Authority Panel
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 enables us to confidently interpret the legislation in such areas. In cases of ambiguity, we seek the views of our esteemed colleagues within Government and within our networks to enable us to provide you with assured advice that we stand by.
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.
How to enter a Primary Authority partnership with us
To find out more about our Primary Authority service and how it might support your business, or to join us as a Primary Authority partner, please email us at email@example.com.
Fees for Primary Authority advice
Our annual fee is £320. This provides you with three hours of advice from any of the following teams:
- Trading Standards
- Environmental Health
Thereafter, we charge £80 per hour for additional hours. VAT does not apply to Primary Authority charges.
Terms and conditions
Primary Authority is a national scheme introduced and overseen by the Government. You can view the national terms and conditions for Primary Authority on the GOV.UK website (opens PDF).
Pay as you go business compliance advice
We recognise that some businesses may only need compliance advice on an ad hoc basis when a query or issue arises. These businesses may find that our pay as you go business advice service works well for them. It is provided on a clear, fixed hourly rate, and will provide you with bespoke, expert advice for your particular enquiry.
Visit our pay as you go business compliance advice page.
Business advice signposting
We realise that many businesses are keen to try and find the answers to issues themselves, but can't always find where to start. To assist with this, we offer a business signposting service. Having received information from you regarding the specific issue you are trying to resolve, one of our experts will send you the most useful links online to assist you.
This service is free of charge, but it is important to note that no bespoke advice is included in this service.
Visit our business advice signposting page.
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.
For more information on business scams or to report a suspected scam please visit the Action Fraud website.