Businesses are advised that charges for some trading standards advice are being introduced from today (2nd December 2013).
The new approach to charging follows a Northamptonshire County Council cabinet decision in July 2013 and subsequent discussions with representatives of small businesses.
What are the charges?
Advice for businesses that are either less than 18 months old or non-VAT registered businesses with three or less outlets who only trade within the local area will continue to be provided for free as part of the county council’s commitment to boosting enterprise in Northamptonshire.
Businesses not meeting these criteria will be charged for advice on a cost recovery basis (£58.54 plus VAT per hour) if they are VAT registered, with a lower rate (£48.78 plus VAT per hour) applying to those businesses that are not VAT registered.
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 introduce 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 listened to the representations made on behalf of small and new businesses and will continue to provide advice to them for free. We are not alone in this challenge and other local authorities have already begun charging for trading standards business advice.”
Members of the Buy with Confidence approved trader scheme already pay an annual fee and will continue to receive support as part of that package.
Primary Authority Partnerships
Businesses operating or selling products beyond Northamptonshire can enter into a Primary Authority Partnership (PAP) with trading standards. Primary Authority comprises a contract to provide advice and support on specific areas of regulation applicable to the business. Under Primary Authority other regulators are unable to take enforcement action when specific advice is followed. Trading standards currently have ten companies signed up to this scheme with more in the pipeline.