1.This draft Order proposes to extend the scope of the Primary Authority scheme, as provided under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, to include regulations made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 dealing with public health protection. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), this will have the effect of enabling businesses to form Primary Authority partnerships with local authorities in England in relation to public health protection, including in the context of a future pandemic.
2.The Primary Authority scheme was launched in 2009 and is a way for businesses to receive assured and tailored advice on meeting regulatory requirements, for example in relation to environmental health or trading standards, through a single point of contact. Advice provided through a Primary Authority must be respected by other local regulators. Primary Authority is based on legal partnerships between businesses and individual local authorities; businesses may set up their own partnership or belong to a trade association with an existing partnership.
3.BEIS explains that in 2020 around 46,000 businesses with an existing Primary Authority partnership (covering a different regulatory area) were receiving informal advice on complying with regulations dealing with the pandemic. The changes proposed by this instrument would enable these businesses to access consistent and reliable advice on compliance with public health protection regulations, thereby supporting preparations for any future public health emergency, including a future pandemic. The Department says that businesses, local authorities, and trade associations have requested the extension of the Primary Authority scheme to enable a more uniform approach to the interpretation and application of public health protection regulations.