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Trading and charging
Finding and exploiting opportunities for possible income generation is an increasingly necessary part of the activities of not only local authorities, but also for the police, fire and rescue authorities and other public bodies. This is important to mitigate the effects of the increasing demand for services at a time of reduction in other sources of income. It is also crucially important if authorities are to be able to respond to the needs of their communities for new services and other innovations. On the other hand, those relying on public services are also increasingly aware of the need to reduce their costs and will understandably resist attempts by public bodies to recover increasing costs with direct charges.
Legally, this is an area of law which has been both controversial and complicated with apparently conflicting judicial interpretations of complicated statutory provisions. Members of Chambers have been heavily involved in such cases, whether assisting local authorities with funding regulatory schemes, advising both the police authorities and those subject to the charges for special police services, advising fire authorities as to the limits of their powers to recover costs, or companies or individuals who wish to challenge such charging or trading schemes.
However, much of the work of members is in assisting to avoid litigation by advising in relation to proposed schemes to ensure that they are properly constructed and justified, by engaging constructively with public bodies on behalf of those affected, and by responding to the concerns of the auditor.
While it is understandable in policy terms to think in terms of income generation, the difference between charging and trading is crucial. The team can advise not only as to how to operate this distinction to the best advantage, but also ensure that the financial benefit to be derived from charging and trading is not reduced by unnecessary challenges and costs.
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