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Primary Authority



What does Primary Authority mean?

It signifies a legally-recognised partnership between a local authority and a business, which aims to promote consistency between local authorities across the UK. The local authority becomes the business’s ‘Primary Authority’ and provides them with assured, trustworthy advice which other authorities will consider during any communication with the business.



What can NCASS’s Primary Authority do for a catering business?


Through our partnership with Cherwell District Council, we are able to give advice and guidance that has been assured by a Government department. You can trust that our advice for your catering business is sensible, dependable and compliant with the law.

The Primary Authority helps inspectors from local authorities other than Cherwell to better understand your catering business and the challenges you face. As an NCASS member, as long as you follow the advice that NCASS has agreed with Cherwell Council, representatives from other local authorities cannot ask you to do differently.



What if another local authority insists on you doing things their way?

If a representative from another local authority questions the advice you have received from NCASS, or has a different interpretation of a specific legal regulation, please ask them to contact NCASS. We will liaise with Cherwell Council and the other local authority to resolve the matter on your behalf.

That way, you can continue to run your catering business, protected from the consequences of inconsistent local interpretation of regulations.



What ‘assured advice and guidance’ do you get from NCASS?


Cherwell Council have audited the NCASS due diligence system (your white folder, risk assessments, recording diary, codes of practice and policy documents) and all of our online training. They’ve signed both off as ‘assured advice and guidance’ based on industry best practice. That means that as an NCASS member you will be training and working to Primary Authority assured standards..

Local authorities will use the same standards for inspection purposes. Food safety officers should be using the NCASS inspection plan during inspections of any NCASS members (and you can remind them that this is the case if they aren’t already doing so). They should then upload the inspection report to the Primary Authority register and, ideally, NCASS Connect.



What areas of catering does the Primary Authority cover?

NCASS’s Primary Authority partnership with Cherwell District Council covers Food Safety and Health & Safety. We also have arrangements with Milton Keynes for Trading Standards and West Yorkshire for Fire Safety. If you are an NCASS member and need reliable advice to do with any of these subjects, please do call NCASS on 0121 603 2524 so we can help you.

 


Does Primary Authority cover the whole of the UK?


The Government scheme is currently only available to businesses in England and Wales. If you are based in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you (and your local enforcement officers) will have access to the guidance but unfortunately it won’t have the same standing… For now. There is an act going through Parliament at the moment with the aim of extending the scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

As an NCASS member, do you have to join the Primary Authority?

As a member you’re automatically enrolled in the scheme but you could opt out by emailing mark@ncass.org.uk. That being said, we can’t think of any reason why you would want to opt out of extra protection at no added cost. Only two NCASS members have opted out of the Primary Authority scheme but only because they are large multi-site restaurants who have their own Primary Authority partnerships in place.

 

How much does Primary Authority advice cost?


As you are automatically enrolled as an NCASS member, there is no cost for Primary Authority advice, other than that of your membership. There is also the option to receive further paid support from the Primary Authority than what is included within membership.

For example, if you wanted to have products microbiologically tested, NCASS can arrange this for you at reduced rates through the Primary Authority.

 



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