Headlines: February 25th, 2000

Only half of local authorities in England and Wales have so far signed up to the Enforcement Concordat which was launched last year. It sets out a code of practice for fair regulation of business and requires a new approach to enforcement with the emphasis on prevention before prosecution and dialogue between businesses and enforcers. It was drawn up by central and local Government in consultation with consumer and business groups. The In the last six months about 100 authorities have signed up, but this is well below the expected take up rate.The difficulty for councils is that they have to redesign procedures and persuade their staff to think differently about the job they are doing. Because the change involves costs with limited benefits, signing up to the Concordat is low down on the change agenda. Cabinet Office Ministers wish to avoid compelling local authorities to sign up by introducing legislation and the response in the next few months will be critical in deciding whether to continue with the voluntary approach.