Headlines: March 2nd, 1998

The Councils that do better in getting organisations to comply with regulations are those that take businesses on board. This was the message from the Local Business Partnership Annual Conference.Understanding the customer is vital in all businesses, including that of local government. Applying regulations about planning or trading standards to business can be an ineffective and wasteful process if council officers do not understand the businesses they are regulating. Where there is no contact with business, the pressures on officers lead to ‘gold plated’ arrangements which can place a heavy burden on those who have to comply.

Local Business Partnerships (LBPs) have been set up to help ease the burdens of regulation on companies, to learn from one another, spread good practice and network. Speaking at the conference, Public Services Minister Peter Kilfoyle said: “This Government wants to make it easier for small businesses to get hold of advice. It is part of our overall agenda to make government better and simpler for everyone. Through working in partnership, local authorities can help navigate businesses through a minefield of regulation, helping them to comply more effectively with those regulations.”

Outlining the benefits for business, Stephen Alambritis, Federation of Small Business, said: “LBPs make it easier for businesses, large and small, to understand their responsibilities with regard to regulation, giving them a real say in how regulations are carried out locally.”

There is some disappointment that only 106 councils have established Local Business Partnerships with local companies although a further 100 were considering doing so. Efforts are being made to encourage the remaining 200 authorities to set up partnerships and further information on how to do so can be obtained from David Raderecht, Better Regulation Unit, Cabinet Office, Room 71A/2, Horse Guards Road, London SW1P 3AL, tel 0171 270 5837, fax 0171 270 6042.