Local councils, police and fire authorities have been given the power to trade following the introduction of new legislation. They are able to provide discretionary services which are beyond their statutory obligations, and to recover the costs they incur. They may, for example, now provide and charge for advisory services, such as trading standards and fire safety. This new power gives authorities very broad discretion to provide additional services to meet the Government’s aim of encouraging authorities to provide more wide-ranging, new and innovative services for their communities.The new legislation does not override any existing legislation which prohibits an authority from charging for a discretionary service. Authorities need to ensure that when using the general charging power they fully comply with other complementary legislation such as the Competition Acts. Otherwise they may incur significant associated costs.
Power for Best Value Authorities to Charge for Discretionary Services – Guidance on the Power in the Local Government Act 2003.