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Pioneering new sources of expert advice

On 20/09/13 by Richard Matthews (Midlands Secretary)

In an earlier blog I spoke about how industry engagement in initiatives to ease the burden of red tape and regulation was starting to have an impact on the legislative and compliance environment.

Now it seems that local authorities – certainly in many parts of the Midlands – are taking up the challenge by helping industry access their services much more quickly and efficiently.

Talk to Reg developed by the Better Business for All (BBfA) initiative, provides an online resource for all businesses to get expert advice on meeting legislation, providing a single point of contact for regulatory guidance.

The portal features contact details and useful information for organisations responsible for food safety, health and safety, environmental protection, licensing, trading standards and fire safety.

It is part of a new approach that is being led by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO), which focuses on effective regulation being a catalyst for business growth.

The idea was pioneered by Lichfield District Council but now extends across a wide area of the West Midlands. Simply punch in your postcode and contacts for the appropriate departments flash up.

The categories have been designed so they match what a business might be looking to find; for example food safety inspections, building regulations, tax and employment. There’s even a section on business advice.

The early signs are that this facility is being well used by the business community particularly as the service is also available on smartphones.

It answers the long-held criticism from businesses and licensees in particular who say they can waste valuable man hours trying to track down the right contact in the right department.

In another initiative in the same LEP area Cannock Chase District Council has led the way with its Environmental Health Business Support team offering free support to businesses to help in simplifying compliance with regulations and improving areas such as hygiene and health and safety standards.

Instead of inspections, its environmental health team is offering free advice visits, regular updates on new legislation and regular telephone support from a dedicated Business Support Officer.

This can help businesses including pubs improve their food hygiene rating without having to wait for their next routine inspection. What’s more the service is free of charge and does not involve enforcement action.

Other authorities have shown interest in a similar scheme and now Birmingham City Council is set to take it up.

Initiatives such as this can only help the relationship between the regulators and businesses and the BBfA scheme, currently being trailed with the GBSLEP and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership before being rolled out to other LEPs, can take much of the credit for providing the umbrella for this to be achieved.


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