Local food authorities will have just an additional £520 each to enforce High Fat Salt & Sugar (HFSS) legislation when it comes into effect in October this year.

Figures revealed to through a Freedom of Information request showed that local food authorities will have to share a pot of £179,000 for the first year of the new legislation, reducing to £102,000 for the second and third years. With 344 local food authorities active in England, that amounts to £520.34 per authority for the entire first year, dropping to £296.51 for years two and three.

The Department of Health & Social Care declined to comment on the amount being made available for enforcement of HFSS or how it is expected to be spent.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) estimates that small shops face a £13,000 bill to ensure compliance with the regulations, while larger stores could face costs of up to £100,000 to alter their store layouts.

As part of the consultation into the issue, it was proposed that non-compliance with the legislation would be initially dealt with through improvement notices, and if the non-compliance continued, a fixed penalty of £2,500 would be issued.

ACS chief executive James Lowman told that he hoped that despite the lack of funding, local authorities would work with retailers to ensure the legislation is complied with rather than an over-zealous approach.

“Retailers and suppliers are taking their responsibilities when it comes to implementing the HFSS rules extremely seriously, despite mixed messages and a lack of communication from Government about the finer details of the regulations,” he said. “We hope that the approach to enforcement will be collaborative with retailers and not heavy handed, as the regulations themselves are extremely complex and there is a risk retailers could fall foul of a nuance of the rules without intending to do so.

“In producing our assured advice on HFSS regulations we have worked very closely with our partner authority Surrey & Bucks Trading Standards, through whom we have consulted with the wider enforcement community, and we consistently hear a commitment to proportionate enforcement and working in partnership with businesses. We would be extremely disappointed if any local authorities took the approach of going to stores armed with tape measures looking to catch retailers out, or if we heard any rhetoric from the government suggesting this was their expectation.”

He advised retailers to consult the ACS’ Assured Advice guide on HFSS.

“As with other areas of legislation that retailers face, the number of visits that a store gets will vary from area to area based on the funding available to each authority and the perception of any local issues. We strongly recommend that ACS members make use of our comprehensive guidance on HFSS rules, which gives an Assured interpretation of the rules that must be respected by enforcement officers throughout England and Wales.”