09 July 2013

Plans to charge businesses for trading standards advice are set to be considered at Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet meeting next week (16th July).

About trading standards business advice

The service currently offers free trading standards advice to businesses, regardless of their size and the frequency or complexity of their enquiries. It also acts as the home authority of any businesses which have a head office in Northamptonshire, providing them with a single point of contact for advice on compliance with relevant legislation.

The council’s ongoing financial challenges mean it is now necessary to look at charges for business advice on a cost recovery basis, as the long-term future of this service can only be guaranteed if it becomes self-funding.

County council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: “The current financial climate means that we have to consider charging businesses for advice from trading standards.

“We simply cannot afford to keep offering this service for free, and by putting a charging structure in place, we can make sure that this service continues to exist in the future.

“We have consulted with businesses that we regularly advise and in general, they understood the situation we are facing. We are not alone in this challenge and other local authorities have already begun charging for trading standards business advice.”

What is the proposal?

The cabinet paper proposes that trading standards will continue to provide free advice by signposting businesses to websites or other sources of information. Anything beyond this basic advice will be charged at a rate of £58.54 per hour.

It is also proposed that start-up businesses would receive up to two hours free trading standards advice to support them in their new endeavour as part of the council’s commitment to boosting enterprise in Northamptonshire.

Members of the trading standards Buy with Confidence approved trader scheme already pay an annual fee and will continue to receive support as part of that package.