What is Primary Authority?

At Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards we understand the risks that businesses face. In particular, having another enforcement authority challenge you (even though you think you have done the right thing) can be worrying, costly and damaging to your public image.

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Primary Authority

The Primary Authority Scheme addresses these concerns by giving a statutory status to advice received from a local authority partner. Provided the business is in partnership with that authority and has followed the advice, the law now prevents other authorities from challenging that business and sets out a specific route for challenging the advice.

  • So, if for example you sell garden equipment and receive "assured advice" that a particular hedge cutter is not subject to age restrictions, you know you won't face enforcement action from other authorities who decide to try and "test purchase" these items using a child.
  • In the same way, if you are manufacturing toys or cosmetics, you can receive assured advice on the processes that you use. That way, if another enforcement authority challenges these processes you will have the assurance that you won't need to spend time and money changing them because the processes will have been "assured" by us.

Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards offer an award winning Primary Authority (PA) service across Trading Standards, Environmental Health and fire safety legislation. Your business doesn't need to be based in Buckinghamshire or Surrey to enter into a partnership with us.

We have extensive experience in offering both 'direct' and 'co-ordinated' PA partnerships, (which extend participation to businesses in trade associations and franchisees). Our PA partners include both large and small businesses including Coca-Cola Enterprises, Shell, Esso, British Gas, Waitrose, Toyota and the Association of Convenience Stores.

Partnerships must complete a formal nomination process and are approved by the Government which can take a few weeks to complete.

Buckinghamshire and Surrey offer a range of partnership models to suit your needs. Please see our webpage: Fees, timescales and payments for business advice for more information.


Primary Authority Partnerships with Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards have:

  • Helped businesses manage relationships with local authorities across the UK
  • Simplified regulatory processes and reduce the cost of compliance.
  • Delivered significant financial savings
  • Helped to reduce the risk pf non-compliance for a business and ultimately ensured it is both profitable and productive.
  • A guaranteed level of service and support.
  • Access to other sources of helpful information.

Other potential benefits of Primary Authority are:

  • Financial savings – the Government estimates that UK businesses could save £48 million per year through PA (source Regulatory Delivery).
  • Improved standards.
  • Fewer inspections, information requests, and checks on your business nationally.

Our Primary Authority options

Easy 1 2 3

Small businesses can especially benefit from regulatory advice. Therefore, we offer an introductory offer to businesses which have only one base in either Buckinghamshire or Surrey, have been trading for less than two years and have less than three employees (three full time equivalents). Easy 1 2 3 is available to help you.

Regulation means businesses must meet certain standards relating to consumer protection, fire safety, health and safety, food safety or environmental law. This can be a confusing landscape for a new business to navigate.

Accessed through a single point, Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Fire and Rescue now offer the benefits of Primary Authority to pre-start-ups and newer businesses via a fixed price package.

All services must be used within 12 months of sign up. Three employees means three full time equivalents. Offer includes formal nomination process for Primary Authority and exemption from existing Primary Authority set up fee. Normal hourly rates will apply after expiry of 12 months or use of three pre paid hours in the package. Partnerships are subject to annual renewal charge. Partnership may be cancelled at any time by notifying the regulator.

Primary Authority, outlined below, is a nationally recognised partnership with a regular which can deliver 'assured advice' that other regulators must have regard to. This means we can provide you with greater certainty in making decisions about your business and increase your confidence that you are doing things right.

Offering you the opportunity to work with our friendly, specialist team, Easy 1 2 3 enables you to explore how getting advice direct from the regulators can help your business too and includes

  • formal nomination of Primary Authority partnership
  • three hours of bespoke advice
  • unlimited signposting to self service information
  • a named officer contact in Trading Standards

Pay as you go (PAYG)

An agreement established using standard contract terms and a fixed set-up fee and an annual renewal fee. To ensure that partnerships deliver benefits to our customers, PAYG is provided by exception only and we will need to agree an outline of what you want to achieve through the partnership.

Fixed fee mini

In order to be a meaningful partnership there should be a minimum level of activity during the year to enable meetings and discussions to take place. A fixed fee mini meets this criteria incorporating standard contract terms, 5 hours of advice, set-up fee and an annual renewal fee.

Fixed fee

An agreement established using standard contract terms and a fixed minimum amount of hourly advice, set-up fee and an annual renewal fee. By pre-paying for 15 hours of advice you will benefit from one extra hour of free advice.


An agreement established using standard contract terms, which is fully tailored to your business needs, all set-up fees are incorporated into the cost of operating this contract. The contract will be established through face to face meetings to determine the individual requirements of the business

Single Point of Contact (SPOC)

All Primary Authority partnerships are offered and established with Trading Standards as the primary regulator. As an addition, our Single Point of Contact option delivers advice from multiple regulators through a single access route. You may, therefore, choose to add the following to your partnership:

  • Environmental Health, Fire Safety, Welsh devolved legislation.

Ancillary to Primary Authority advice, general advice and information can also be added through access to regulators in:

  • Scotland.

National Regulators participating in Primary Authority can be accessed through the Single Point of Contact route and will be recharged at cost based on their individual charging models.

Environmental Health

Available through Primary Authority single point of contact (SPOC), we can offer assistance from a selection of local Environmental Health services. Specialists in food hygiene, health and safety, pollution control, and environmental protection, these officers can help guide you through their regulatory areas.

Utilising operation enforcement officers' knowledge and experience, we can help you to understand what existing and new legislation means in practice for your business. Assured Advice can be applied to deliver robust health and safety risk assessments or assured food safety procedures and plans which can contribute towards your food hygiene score and keep your employees and customers safe. We can also develop inspection plans with you that direct enforcement officers from other local authorities which areas they must focus on during routine inspections.

'Our Primary Authority agreement with Woking Borough Council's Environmental Health has provided significant benefits to our business, particularly in the form of consistent enforcement of food hygiene and health and safety legislation on a national level. We have been able to consult it when new legislation is introduced and when we need to review our procedures. As a business which also operates a number of franchise restaurants, we have been able to include our franchise partners in the coordinated partnership with Woking Borough Council to deliver a consistent approach to safety management across the brand' Janet Cox, Head of Risk and Compliance, Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Fire damage can often be costly to a business, even in very small incidents. Few people consider how much damage can be caused just by smoke. Do you have a fire prevention plan or do you need help preparing a disaster recovery plan?

Businesses can request a primary authority partnership with a single fire authority to source regulatory compliance advice tailored for their premises and to ensure consistent advice is provided across establishments spanning multiple fire authority areas. Available through Primary Authority single point of contact (SPOC), we can offer a partnership with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service which is specialists in fire safety and can guide you through its regulatory area of expertise.

Businesses that participate in this area of Primary Authority benefit from a better working relationship with a local regulator and are able to invest in fire safety measures, systems and policies in a manner consistent with their business model whilst being confident of their compliance with fire safety law.

The provision of robust and reliable fire safety advice from a fire and rescue service through Primary Authority ensures consistency of regulation and a secure basis for investment and operational decision making, thus

  • reducing the costs of regulatory compliance
  • reducing the burdens of regulatory compliance
  • increasing confidence in regulatory compliance
  • providing clarify regarding responsibilities.

'As a national company, working with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards under our Primary Authority agreement has been a great experience for us from day one and has to be the way forward. Like many companies, getting access to good quality advice on business compliance and risk management issues so we can make policy and plan is not a straightforward matter.

The prospect of allowing enforcing agencies access to your business can be a source of concern but we were impressed with Buckinghamshire and Surrey's understanding of our business needs and it did a great deal to put us at our ease in the early stages of the agreement. Since then, we have used the services of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service extensively across the business and I have to say I am delighted with both the working relationships we have with the fire safety team and the results it produces.

We will continue to work with it and, on the basis of the high quality service we've enjoyed thus far, we will look for opportunities to expand and use it in other areas' Sean Turner, Health and Safety Manager, Caravan and Motorhome Club.

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