Do I need a Primary Authority?

Primary Authority is a term that has been increasingly used in regulation. But what exactly does it mean? And do all businesses need one? Let’s take a look.

What is it?

Primary Authority is a statutory scheme, delivered by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – previously via the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) – and established by the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008. Introduced in 2009, the scheme has over 16,000 registered business partnerships and aims to work with over 200,000 businesses by 2020.

The Primary Authority scheme helps address concerns businesses may have regarding how they are regulated by Local Authorities in areas such as environmental health, licensing, and trading standards legislation. It enables an eligible business to form a legally recognised working partnership with a single Local Authority regarding regulatory compliance. This Local Authority is known as the ‘Primary Authority’ and offers bespoke and assured advice to the registered business. The partnership is applicable nationwide, no matter what other Local Authority area the business operates in.

There are two types of partnerships available to businesses depending on their suitability. According to GOV UK,

A direct partnership enables a business to use and register what may be a large multi-site operation or a smaller more local business, with one single Local Authority that they will work with. This will ensure their systems and procedures meet the relevant legal requirements.

A coordinated partnership (established in October 2013) targets groups of businesses that wish to share a method of compliance with other businesses, such as members of a trade association following guidance provided by that trade association, in conjunction with their Primary Authority. This partnership involves a third party to act as a coordinator between the Primary Authority and the business, to manage and simplify their statutory requirements and to create a coherent approach.

How will a Primary Authority benefit me?

Whatever the size, any business that operates across council boundaries can have a Primary Authority partnership with a single Local Authority regarding regulatory compliance. According to GOV UK, having a Primary Authority partnership shows commitment to working with regulators, with a desire to better its experience of local regulation. It helps you untangle the red tape and will get the inspectors on your side when it comes to local regulation.

Following on from the EU referendum, the partnership is even more valuable for businesses to provide support and guidance during this period of uncertainty and change. What’s more, you are protected against inconsistent advice, unclear activity, duplicated efforts and a lack of support when councils disagree.

“Primary Authority can deliver real benefits to businesses, Local Authorities and consumers. Assured advice drives up standards and supports businesses to trade with confidence,” according to the Chief Executive at the Food Standards Agency.

Having consistent interpretation of regulations, regardless of the business, results in:

  • Earned recognition for your efforts to achieve compliance
  • Increased clarity, protection and regulatory certainty
  • Reduced costs of complying with legislation
  • Fewer inspections and paperwork
  • Greater affluence for local areas
  • Assured, fast, authoritative advice – relying on expert advice provides a secure basis for you to confidently invest in products, practices and procedures

How does this benefit Shield Safety customers?

Shield Safety has a coordinated partnership with Milton Keynes Council and Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority.

This partnership will give documentation created by Shield Safety Group ‘Assured’ advice status. When working with us, you will benefit from protection from inconsistent enforcement with our Primary Authority. You will have the ability to challenge Local Authorities within England and Wales, as they must legally approach the Primary Authority if they find issues with assured documentation or practices performed if they are being undertaken in accordance with those policies.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email

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