Retailers fear councils will use new fixed penalties for trading and environmental health failings to generate more revenue from businesses

New legislation handing local authorities the power to issue parking-style fines to businesses for breaching trading and environmental health rules could be abused as a council revenue raiser, retailers have warned.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is calling on the government to ensure the legislation includes safeguards that would stop local councils using fixed penalty fines to make money.

Earlier this week, the government tabled a draft bill intended to improve the way local authorities enforce trading and environmental health rules and punish non-compliant businesses. The aim is to create consistency across local authorities and ensure that laws are being interpreted and enforced in the same way.

But the BRC is concerned that, without proper checks, the new approach to punishing businesses for breaches could be abused.

Kevin Hawkins, BRC director general, said: “If local authorities are allowed to issue fixed penalties to businesses, they may abuse them to raise revenue. This could be the new parking ticket.

“Councils will focus on easy targets with quotas for fines issued rather than the real crooks who are harder to tackle, but a bigger risk to customers.”

The BRC wants any revenue raised by local authorities through fixed penalties to be collected in a central fund.

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