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Primary Authority FAQ's

What is a primary authority partnership?
A primary authority partnership is a legal partnership between a business and a local authority or fire service. It is intended to save your business time and money, by helping you make consistent regulatory decisions about your business no matter where in the country you are based. This means you won’t be subject to different interpretations of the law by different regulatory officers if you have received Primary Authority (assured) Advice.

What is the difference between Primary Authority Advice or ‘assured’ advice and general or informal advice?
Different businesses use primary authority partnerships in different ways. Some only access informal advice on issues as and when they arise. For others, a primary authority partnership is used to access specific advice that they can rely on when dealing with other regulators throughout the country; this might be a specific part of your HACCP, product safety regime of fire safety risk assessment. Primary Authority Advice, also known as ‘assured’ advice is issued on a recognised template (attached) and has legal standing – other local authority regulators should respect Primary Authority Advice and shouldn’t ask you to do something differently to the advice you have been issued.

Primary Authority Advice is more complicated to issue and therefore you may use more of your allocated hours if requesting it. This is because, your primary authority must check the advice they are issuing is in line with the relevant legislation, guidance and case law (as applicable). Any Primary Authority Advice issued is checked by Salford City Council (as your official primary authority) before being issued. It is then uploaded onto the primary authority register for other regulators around the country to view.

What if a local authority asks me to do something differently to the Primary Authority Advice I have been issued?
You should first check if you have had Primary Authority Advice on the issue in question or just informal guidance. You should suggest that the regulator contacts your primary authority and you should also do so at the first opportunity.

If you have received Primary Authority Advice on the issue, your primary authority can intervene in any enforcement action. If the regulator still disagrees that they can formally challenge the Primary Authority Advice and it will be escalated to the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for determination. For more information on this process, please contact your advisor or Nick Reddrop.

Who is my primary authority and is this different from my advising authority?
All primary authority partnerships which cover trading standards, environmental health or licensing will have Salford City Council as your official primary authority. However, you may be receiving advice from any of the ten GM local authorities – these are known as your advising authority. They should be your first port of call for any technical advice.

For primary authority partnerships which cover fire safety, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service is your primary authority and should be contacted for any technical advice.

Nick Reddrop at the Centre of Excellence can be contacted for any queries regarding the administration for the partnership.

Is primary authority relevant everywhere in the UK?
This depends on the sort of advice you are requesting. For example, if you are requesting Primary Authority Advice on food, it is only relevant in England. If you requesting advice on fire safety, health & safety or product safety it is only relevant in England and Wales. This should be stipulated on your Primary Authority Advice pro-forma, but if you have any questions, please contact your advisor.

Where can I use the GMRCE business partner logo and when will I receive it?
All our partners receive a ‘business partners’ logo once the primary authority partnership is signed off by the Secretary of State for BEIS. You will also receive brand guidelines, which stipulate where you can and can’t use the logo. If you have any questions about its use, please contact Nick Reddrop.

When will I be invoiced for payment?
Invoices are issued at the start of the financial year or once the summary of partnerships arrangement has been signed, unless agreed otherwise. The invoice will be sent via email from Salford City Council’s finance department.

How are my hours allocated and used?
Your advisor will record the amount of time taken for each piece of advice you request. We suggest requesting an estimate of the number of hours taken for each piece of advice needed. This will ensure that there are no surprises about the number of hours you have remaining.

Nick Reddrop will contact you periodically to inform you how many hours you have used and how many remain. If you require an estimate on how long a piece of advice might take, please contact your advisor.

What is the primary authority register?
The primary authority register has a list of all the primary authority partnerships in existence, detailing both the name of the primary authority and the business. This is a publicly available site, so anyone can see that you are part of a primary authority. There is also a password protected register which has more information about any Primary Authority Advice that has been issued – this is only available to local authority and fire service regulators. Before carrying out an inspection or contacting you, a local authority should check if you have a primary authority and should review any primary authority advice issued.

How often should I meet with my primary authority?
This is up to you, we have found that quarterly meetings work really well as it means that you can be updated on new legislation or pieces of advice that you have requested. However, for other partnerships, they have an initial meeting and then don’t meet again as all advice is requested and issued via phone or email.