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Monday January 25, 2021

OPSS Assesses Primary Authority Performance

A pilot program for the UK's Primary Authority system found three benefits and four challenges. The system aims to give companies centralized locations for advice on regulations and standards, including about product safety.


The pilot – run by the Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) – involved "Growth Hubs" built around the nation's existing Local Authority system. Benefits included:

  • Understanding of each other's work improved between participating Growth Hubs and companies.

  • Growth Hub advisors and regulators gained confidence in speaking with businesses about regulatory matters.

  • Participating businesses found value in the system, even saying they would recommend it to others.

As for the challenges, the OPSS authors deemed them unlikely to be impediments, and, indeed, most of the concerns were addressed during the pilot. They involved:

  • Finding time for hub/regulator training, which participants streamlined, including attention to videos and materials.

  • Delays in handling companies' advice requests, addressed via steps to facilitate contacts with relevant regulators.

  • Restrictions on data sharing, mostly fixed via permission from companies. Attention might be needed for local authorities' interactions with businesses outside their regions.

  • Restrictions on social media posts and gaps in marketing experience by local authorities (and associated cost limits), targeted with scaling to accommodate resources.

There also are about a dozen recommendations, ranging from simplified referral processes to specific procedures related to mitigating delays. Almost three years ago, the then-new OPSS put out a Primary Authority FAQ (PSL, 3/5/18). It was a supplement to a then-recent guide from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.