Assured advice for assured breeders

The Kennel Club entered in to a co-ordinated Primary Authority partnership with the City of London Corporation in June 2020.

What is a Primary Authority?

Primary Authority was introduced by the Government to help businesses which operate within different local authority areas to establish a consistent interpretation of regulations, e.g. a supermarket chain may enter a Primary Authority partnership to ensure that the same store layout will meet the various regulatory requirements whether it is in Cornwall, Norwich or County Durham.

In simple terms, the partnership would connect these businesses with a single local authority, to establish a consistent interpretation of the regulations. This interpretation must then be followed by all other local authorities when regulating businesses which fall under the Primary Authority partnership. There are two types of Primary Authority – a direct partnership and a co-ordinated partnership.

Direct partnerships arise when a single business (e.g. a supermarket) establishes a Primary Authority partnership with a local authority. The business liaises directly with their partner local authority when regulatory issues arise.

A co-ordinated partnership involves a number of regulated ‘businesses’ being members of a group or trade association that acts as a middleman (or co-ordinator) between the business and the partner local authority. This enables smaller businesses to gain the benefits of being part of a Primary Authority partnership, without the cost and bureaucracy of establishing and maintaining the partnership.

The Kennel Club has established a co-ordinated partnership, which will allow eligible breeders to benefit from a more consistent, predictable licensing approach from local authorities.

Introduction to Primary Authority – what are the benefits?

The purpose of a Primary Authority partnership is to deliver consistent implementation of regulations impacting on an activity - in this case dog breeders who are subject to local authority licensing.

Since the implementation of the new dog breeding regulations in England on 1 October 2018, we have been closely monitoring their impact on our breeders. We know from both correspondence we’ve received and surveys we’ve conducted that the new regulations are continuing to cause difficulties for some breeders. One of the issues that regularly gets raised with us is the lack of consistency in interpretation of the new regulations by local authorities. The benefits of Primary Authority to breeders are:

  • Access to relevant, authoritative, tailored advice
  • Improved consistency in the application/enforcement of regulations
  • Confidence to members of the scheme that they are complying with the law
  • Protection against the risk of enforcement action from local authorities that have different views on what they should be doing to achieve compliance – providing the assured advice is followed

What is the City of London Corporation?

The City of London’s Animal Health & Welfare Services Team is considered one of the lead authorities of licensing premises under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving animals) (England) Regulations 2018 which includes the inspection and licensing of dog breeders.

They deliver a City & Guilds level 3 programme to local authorities across England for officers to meet the requirement to be suitably qualified to carry out inspections under the new regulations. They also provide training courses for local authorities on a range of animal health and welfare legislation. A senior animal health inspector from their team is currently a member of The Kennel Club Assured Breeders sub-group.

Our aim for this partnership is to help to improve consistency of local authority delivery of the statutory conditions and guidance which licensed dog breeders in England must adhere to.

Which breeders will be included in the partnership?

This is a brand new venture for The Kennel Club, so due to a number of operational reasons, i.e. that those covered under the scheme have to have a ‘membership’ relationship with the co-ordinating body, it is going to be limited to members of our Assured Breeders scheme to begin with, who are licensed by English local authorities. For breeders who are eligible, they will be automatically ‘opted in’ to the partnership and are then able to opt out if they wish to. This will be kept under review. For those breeders who wish to be part of the scheme, they are welcome to apply to become a member of our Assured Breeders scheme.

How does a co-ordinated Primary Authority partnership work in practice?

As a co-ordinator, Primary Authority assured advice is given directly from the City of London Corporation but provided via The Kennel Club. Issues raised to us will be processed using the following protocol:

  • Step 1 – If a breeder (member of the co-ordinated partnership) believes their local authority has misinterpreted the regulation and licence conditions or statutory guidance, they will need to contact The Kennel Club via this online form 
  • Step 2 – The Kennel Club will assess the issue raised and where deemed relevant, send the information to the City of London for assessment
  • Step 3 – The City of London will then make an assessment as to whether the regulations have been interpreted correctly. If they believe that the interpretation is not within the scope of the regulation or statutory guidance, they are able to issue “assured advice”. This assured advice must then be followed up by the inspecting local authority. Furthermore, this advice then becomes binding on all other local authorities when inspecting members of the co-ordinated group

This assured advice is published on the Government’s Primary Authority website and we will circulate this to all breeders who are members of the co-ordinated group so that they are aware. In addition we will add the assured advice to our website to assist breeders outside of the partnership.

How will the scheme help breeders?

As noted above, the purpose of Primary Authority schemes are to ensure consistent applications of regulations on businesses (in this case, licensed breeders). e.g. the licensing conditions require breeders to have written procedures in place for a number of activities including: feeding regimes, cleaning regimes and transportation of dogs. We understand that while some local authorities are accepting concise written procedures detailing these points, others are demanding extensive amounts of information. Primary Authority assured advice on this matter will provide clarity on what level of detail is required.

Likewise, we’ve been informed that some local authorities are not taking a breeder’s membership of the Assured Breeders scheme into account when determining the star rating, and therefore the length of the licence they issue. This Primary Authority partnership will be able to address this.

Primary Authority assured advice is published on the Government’s website, so it will help to provide clarity for local authorities and breeders alike.

Limitations of Primary Authority partnerships

While we expect this scheme to improve consistency of dog breeding licensing, it will not be a silver bullet to all dog breeder licensing-related issues. Any advice issued under the Primary Authority must reflect what is detailed in the legislation. For instance, it will not alter the threshold set in the regulations for which a breeding licence is required, issues such as kennel sizes or even the complexity of the business test.

Read more in-depth information on the Government's Primary Authority Scheme.
Frequently asked questions

I’m a licensed assured breeder but I’ve not received the email outlining the scheme including how to be a part of the scheme?

Assured breeders who are regulated i.e. have a local authority licence, should be automatically opted in to the scheme. If you believe you should have been opted in and have not been, please contact us via email and we will be able to help you. Equally, please contact us should you wish to opt out.

Will Primary Authority assured advice assist breeders who are not included in the partnership i.e. non-assured breeders and unlicensed breeders?

Yes, to an extent. Whilst assured advice will not be tailored directly to you, the assured advice on our website which will be provided as a result of other breeders possibly experiencing a similar issue will be available for all breeders to make use of.

How much will it cost me to be part of this Primary Authority partnership?

Though some co-ordinators charge a fee for entering into a Primary Authority partnership, The Kennel Club will be providing this free of charge to Assured Breeders scheme members who want to benefit from being included.

I’m a local authority licensed assured breeder. What benefit is there of being a member of the co-ordinated partnership?

The purpose of Primary Authority schemes are to ensure consistent applications of regulations on businesses, in this case licensed breeders. Being a member of a coordinated Primary Authority partnership provides an opportunity for you to address problems that you might encounter when applying for and holding a dog breeding licence. It is not possible to address issues retrospectively, so it is useful to maintain your membership of the scheme for it to help you.

I’m an assured breeder. I don’t currently have a licence but will likely get one in the future. Can I join the scheme?

You will be automatically become a member of the Primary Authority scheme when you are an assured breeder and you have your licence issued by the local authority. If you encounter problems in applying for a licence please let us know and we may be able to issue advice, albeit not ‘assured advice’.

Why is this partnership being limited to England only?

The changes to the breeding regulations in England have caused much greater concern and problems for our breeders than the equivalent breeding regulations in the other countries of the UK. The numbers of breeders the licensing regulations have impacted is much higher than in the other nations of the UK. However, depending on the success and feedback we receive from the implementation of this scheme in England, we will consider rolling out similar arrangements for the other UK nations.

I’m not an assured breeder. Can I join?

This is a brand new venture for The Kennel Club, and due to a number of operational reasons it is going to be restricted to members of the Assured Breeders scheme to begin with.

The rules imposed by the Government regarding the operation of co-ordinated Primary Authority partnerships requires breeders (‘businesses’) to have a ‘membership’ relationship with the co-ordinating body. Breeders who register with The Kennel Club but do not have a ‘membership’ relationship with us therefore by default wouldn’t meet the criteria laid down by Government for Primary Authority schemes. Assured Breeders do have a ‘membership’ relationship with The Kennel Club. 

What happens if I have a problem with my local authority when I have my licence inspection?

If you are a member of the coordinated partnership please fill out this form.

You only seem to be helping volume breeders. What about smaller breeders?

This is not the case. The change to licensing laws in England in 2018 has brought more low volume breeders into the scope of licensing. Assured Breeders scheme members who hold a licence issued by an English local authority are eligible to be members of the scheme regardless of the number of litters they breed.

I am being told I need a licence because I sell puppies. How will this help me?

The dog breeding regulations stipulate that a number of factors need to be considered to determine whether a breeder is operating a ‘business’ and therefore subject to licensing. Aside from extreme circumstances, such as where local authorities are stipulating that the sale of a single puppy requires a licence, the Primary Authority partnership is unlikely to help in these situations. We are working separately regarding the thresholds and tests required for obtaining a licence.

Read further information about dog breeding regulation

What are you doing about councils who insist I need a licence when I only breed one litter?

We are working separately regarding the threshold for obtaining a licence. We believe that the current breeding regulations are disproportionate and in many instances are targeting high welfare, low volume breeders, while the real rogue breeders continue to operate unimpeded putting profits before welfare.