Draft Service and Community Impact Assessment (SCIA)

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1 Draft Service and Community Impact Assessment (SCIA) The Council will need to assess the impact of any proposed budget changes on those with a protected characteristic, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, and people living in areas of deprivation or in rural parts of the county. We will be undertaking this assessment as part of the consultation exercise and finalising it before any decision is made at Council. We would welcome any representations you wish to make as to the likely impact of this proposal and any possible mitigation measures we could take. Details on how to contact us are on our website: Front Sheet:15SCS17 Directorate and Service Area: Social and Community Services: Trading Standards What is being assessed (eg name of policy, procedure, project, service or proposed service change): Increased income from business support services and new specialist training service (Trading Standards) Responsible owner / senior officer: DCFO Nathan Travis Date of assessment: 14/11/13 Summary of judgement: This proposal summarises the potential for increased income relating to the provision of enhanced business advice and support to businesses, and through the development of a training provision in relation to garage forecourt safety and the safe storage of petroleum and explosives. This proposal does not seek to change any existing policy or service provision and relates to increasing income in this area. Page 1 of 5

2 The provision of free business advice and support to start-up businesses and those businesses seeking general advice on how to comply with Trading Standards legislation will still be available. No significant negative impacts have been identified through the completion of this Service and Community Impact Assessment. Detail of Assessment: Purpose of assessment: In March 2013 the then Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities approved a policy for the provision of business advice and support services. This policy detailed those situations where it was appropriate to charge businesses on a cost recovery basis for the advice and support received by the Trading Standards Service. In summary, this stated that those businesses wishing to have business advice and support tailored to their specific needs, or require repeated business advice on reoccurring issues, would be charged for this advice on a cost recovery basis. The policy also approved the further development of our Primary Authority Partnership offering to businesses. Primary Authority Partnerships can be provided by a local authority to a business in order to minimise regulatory burdens for that business. The scheme allows for local authorities to recover costs for some or all of the services provided. As part of the Service and Resource Planning Process it is proposed that this Services seeks to further enhance its offering to businesses and increase the amount of income received in this area. There will be no change to the provision of free business advice and support to startup businesses and those businesses seeking general advice on how to comply with Trading Standards legislation. Context / Background: In 2008 the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act was introduced to enable business to receive enhanced support from regulatory services, to ensure consistency of advice and, where a business trades nationally, to reduce the burden of dealing with enquiries from different local authorities. This Act introduced the Primary Authority scheme. Under a Primary Authority Partnership specific services can be provided by the local authority to a business in order to minimise regulatory burdens for that business. The scheme allows for local authorities to recover costs for some or all of the services provided. Page 2 of 5

3 From this time many local authority Trading Standards Services began to introduce a policy of charging for business advice on a cost recovery basis. The current landscape for charging differs around the country with local authorities deciding what is best for their specific set of circumstances. However the vast majority of services now charge, through one method or another, for the provision of specific and tailored business advice and support or for approved advice to businesses. Oxfordshire County Council set out it policy for business advice and support in March 2013, and this proposal does not seek to amend this policy in any way. The proposal is to increase income from chargeable business advice and support by improving our offer to businesses, to improve the marketing of our services and encourage a greater number of Primary Authority Partnerships. Proposals: This proposal does not contain a change to any existing policy or service provision. It is only proposed that we increase the development of our business advice and support provision to take advantage of our current skills and expertise. At this time we are unable to identify all of the specific areas of development but we will be seeking to develop a training provision in relation to garage forecourt safety and the safe storage of petroleum and explosives, taking advantage of our centre of excellence in this area. This decision is based on the rationale that we have a resource of experienced and well-trained staff, working across a number of business areas that can offer businesses tailored advice, support and training. This not only benefits the council from increasing income but supports those businesses that wish to take advantage of such offering, and ensures that the additional costs associated from providing such a tailored service is met by those receiving the benefit. Evidence / Intelligence: Our research has shown that the concept of charging businesses for tailored business support and approved advice has been growing within Trading Standards Services for a number of years. Arguably Oxfordshire Trading Standards adopted this policy later than the majority. This has given us the ability to understand what others have been doing in this area and what lessons they have learnt. We know that our approved hourly rate charge of 40 per hour is lower than many other authorities. But we believe this rate is a true reflection of our costs in this area, and also provides businesses with the best possible value. We are currently working with a number of established businesses based within the County to explain our agreed approach to business advice and support, and Page 3 of 5

4 discussing the benefits of Primary Authority Partnerships in particular. Research from other local authorities shows that Primary Authority Partnerships are valued by businesses and that the number of agreements are increasing. We are also aware that there is a demand for training in the areas of forecourt safety and the safe storage of hazardous materials. This includes requirements on official visitors, inspectors and contractors to petrol forecourts to be suitably trained. We are in a natural position to take advantage of this demand. The original work developing the current policy on the provision of business advice and support did not identify any risks or negative impact on different individuals, communities or groups. Alternatives considered / rejected: At a time when funding is reducing for council services it is appropriate that the council looks to increase income for the provision of non-statutory services and recover the costs associated. Impact Assessment: Impact on Individuals and Communities: This proposal does not change any previously agreed policy or service provision. Free business advice and support will continue for start-up businesses and for those established businesses seeking general advice on how to comply with Trading Standards legislation. The council will review the impact of any new specific areas of business advice and support development, such as a new training programme, as they become known. Age. No specific impact identified. Disability. No specific impact identified. Gender reassignment. No specific impact identified. Pregnancy and maternity. No specific impact identified. Race. No specific impact identified. Sex. No specific impact identified. Sexual orientation. No specific impact identified. Marriage and civil partnership. No specific impact identified. Rural communities. No specific impact identified. Areas of deprivation. No specific impact identified. Page 4 of 5

5 Impact on Staff: It is envisaged that the workload generated will be absorbed within the Trading Standards Service. If demand for the enhanced services is significant then the income will be used to increase staffing capacity. In considering any new Primary Authority agreements the service will establish the resources required to support the agreement before entering into that agreement. Impact on other Council services: No specific impact identified Impact on providers: No specific impact identified Page 5 of 5

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