North Lincolnshire Council will start charging for providing business advice.
Currently businesses in North Lincolnshire receive free, unlimited advice ranging from general guidance on legislation to more complex advice on individual product specifications and labelling.
The new policy will provide a clear line as to what advice is free and where businesses will have to pay in future.
There is no statutory requirement for the council to provide businesses with advice.
Businesses are encouraged to be part of a nationally recognised Primary Authority Partnership Scheme – that offers them the opportunity to form a legally recognised partnership with one local council, who then provides robust and reliable formal advice to businesses at cheaper rates than going elsewhere.
It ensures compliance and protects businesses against prosecution from other councils.
Small businesses who don’t qualify to be part of the scheme will continue to receive 30 minutes free advice.
Councillor Richard Hannigan, cabinet member for Governance and Transformation at North Lincolnshire Council, said: “A key benefit of being part of a Primary Authority Partnership Scheme is that businesses receive expert advice at less cost than if they were to go to a solicitor or trade body.
“By being part of the scheme, they also benefit from formalised inspection plans and legally binding published advice.
“Many councils across the country no longer provide free business advice or limit the advice given, as resources are stretched, we must think of doing things differently.
“We are not completely withdrawing free advice. Through the new Business Advice Policy, we are simply setting out what advice we will and will not charge for in future.”