Free trading standards to end for firms

Plans to charge businesses for trading standards advice will be considered at Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet next week.

The service currently offers free trading standards advice to businesses, but the council wants the service to be self-funding and is proposing charging businesses £58.54 per hour.

County council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, said: “The current financial climate means that we have to consider charging businesses for advice from trading standards.

“We simply cannot afford to keep offering this service for free, and by putting a charging structure in place, we can make sure that this service continues to exist in the future.

“We have consulted with businesses that we regularly advise and in general, they understood the situation we are facing.

“We are not alone in this challenge and other local authorities have already begun charging for trading standards business advice.”

Under the proposals trading standards will continue to provide free advice by directing businesses to websites or other sources of information; beyond this the charge would kick in.

Start-up businesses would receive up to two hours free advice.