North Lincolnshire Council looks set to introduce a Trading Standards Business Advice Policy that will set out what advice will be provided free and where businesses will have to pay in future.
There is no statutory requirement for the council to provide businesses with advice.
Currently North Lincolnshire businesses receive free unlimited advice. This can range from general guidance on legislation to more complex advice on individual product specifications and labelling, which can be resource intensive and costly to the council.
Businesses are encouraged to be part of a nationally recognised Primary Authority Partnership Scheme – that offers them the opportunity to form a legally recognised partnership with one local council, who then provides robust and reliable formal advice to businesses at cheaper rates than going elsewhere. It ensures compliance and protects businesses against prosecution from other councils.
For more details about the Primary Authority Partnership Scheme and to find out if your business qualifies, visit: www.northlincs.gov.uk
Small businesses who don’t qualify to be part of the scheme will continue to receive 30 minutes free advice.
Coun Richard Hannigan, from Kirmington, Cabinet Member for Governance and Transformation at North Lincolnshire Council, said: “A key benefit of being part of a Primary Authority Partnership Scheme is that businesses receive expert advice at less cost than if they were to go to a solicitor or trade body. By being part of the scheme, they also benefit from formalised inspection plans and legally binding published advice.
“Many councils across the country no longer provide free business advice or limit the advice given, as resources are stretched, we must think of doing things differently.
“We are not completely withdrawing free advice; through the new Business Advice Policy, we are simply setting out what advice we will and will not charge for in future.”