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NEW 'INFOSHOP' PILOT OFFERS HELPING HAND ON REGULATION

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Do you need advice on planning permission or want to know what you need to do to open a baker's shop? Then you coul...
Do you need advice on planning permission or want to know what you need to do to open a baker's shop? Then you could benefit from a new pilot project funded by the government's Invest to Save Budget (ISB).

The pilot, called INFOSHOP, has been set up to offer advice to the public and business community on a range of regulatory issues. It will be led by a consortium of local authorities, central government departments and other public bodies.

The pilot was announced yesterday by minister for the Cabinet Office, Jack Cunningham and chief secretary to the treasury, Alan Milburn, as one of 33 winning bids from across the country to be awarded a grant from the ISB scheme.

The pilot will concentrate on business and citizens' requirements for help on regulatory issues. The issues to be covered by the pilot are: planning, building control, health and safety, and food safety. If successful the model may be expanded to offer advice on a much broader range of services.

The pilot will build on an electronic system developed by Bexley LBC. The Bexley system will be remodelled and expanded to enable front line staff to answer complex queries about a range of regulation issues such as whether planning permission is needed or how best to ensure workers' safety.

The technology will be used to support many new and innovative ways of offering information and advice to business and the citizen, including through one stop shops and call centres. The pilot will involve local authorities from across the country.

The pilot will offer:

* advice that is comprehensive and consistent on the first point of contact

* advice from one person on a range of issues, rather than being passed from pillar to post

* on-the-spot help, such as pre-completion of forms using technology similar to that used in telephone banking

The consortium is being co-ordinated by the Cabinet Office. It involves the local authorities listed below, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Department of Health, the Health and Safety Executive and the University of Salford.

Public service minister Peter Kilfoyle said:

'This is fantastic news for business and the consumer. This pilot project will draw local and central government partners together to improve public service. It is a concrete example of how this government is forging ahead with its agenda to modernise the public sector. The project will build on the best existing examples of innovative and cost-effective service delivery.'

Welcoming the announcement on behalf of the Local Government Association, councillor John Ryan said:

'I am delighted to endorse this project on behalf of the LGA. For most people and businesses the first point of contact with government is through their local authority. The project will enable all local authorities to share best practice and ensure consistent and excellent information and advice is given to business and the public.'

NOTES

1.£120m of new funding was announced today by chief secretary Alan Milburn and minister for the Cabinet Office Jack Cunningham for 33 projects promoting greater responsiveness and efficiency through the joined-up delivery of services. INFOSHOP has been awarded a£100,000 grant from the Invest to Save Budget.

2. John Ryan is the chair of the Local Government Association Public Protection Committee and a member of the Access Business Group (a ministerial/local Government/business group chaired

by the minister for public services) which is seeking to improve the delivery of regulations.

3. A number of different local authorities are involved in INFOSHOP. These include Barnsley MBC, Bexley LBC, Camden LBC, Ealing LBC, Knowsley MBC, Lincolnshire CC (working with the districts within its area), Norwich City Council, Oxfordshire CC, Reigate & Banstead BC, Teignbridge DC, Thurrock BC, Tower Hamlets LBC, Vale Royal BC and Waltham Forest LBC.

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