Launched in April 2009, the Primary Authority initiative enables businesses to obtain consistent advice on compliance with regulation from local authorities.
Businesses which are regulated by more than one council can either deal directly with a primary authority or access the scheme via a trade association or other coordinator.
The scheme enables those businesses to receive assured and tailored advice on issues such as environmental health, trading standards and fire safety regulations through a single point of contact.
Following a public consultation earlier this year, Primary Authority has now been extended to cover start-ups and pre-start-ups, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced.
From 1 October 2017, the changes will allow Growth Hubs, Better Business for All, and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to provide tailored, local advice on matters of regulation.
Some 16,000 UK businesses currently benefit from Primary Authority partnerships. BEIS anticipates that, following the changes, a further 250,000 will have signed up by 2020.
More than 95% of those will be small or medium-sized enterprises, it calculates.
Having early access to regulatory advice will, the Department argues, help businesses get things right first time, protect consumers and allow enforcing authorities to target their resources more effectively.
Announcing the changes, Margot James, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility said that they "help bring down the barriers which hold back businesses by streamlining and clarifying regulation, giving businesses the confidence to invest, grow and hire".
For further information, including how to form a Primary Authority partnership, see http://bit.ly/2g6zlAC.