The draft statutory pubs code could be published within a week, sources have told M&C’s sister title, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser.
The code, which will contain the crucial detail of how the market rent-only (MRO) option will work in practice, will be followed by a period of consultation with the industry, giving voices on both side of the debate a chance to give their views.
Industry sources told the PMA that the code is set to published imminently. A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said its release would be “sooner rather than later”.
Earlier this month applications for the role of pubs code adjudicator closed, but the legislation he or she will oversee remains undefined.
The Government promised a consultation on a draft code by the autumn but there are increasing concerns about a lack of time for discussion and the effect of continued uncertainty. The secondary legislation must be in place by the end of May 2016.
Chris Wright, co-founder of tenant body the Pubs Advisory Service (PAS), urged the Government to ‘get on with it’ and publish the code. Although there has been informal contact with PAS over the summer, Wright said officials were dragging their feet.
He said: “Very soon there will be no time to consult properly and redraft the code as required; it will be a rush job that pleases no-one. The pubs sector is one of the largest employers in the UK and deserves proper consideration and attention to get this right if it is to attract the best people to run the pubs we all enjoy.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said there was a clear legal requirement to hit the May 2016 deadline.
“The challenge always is that the devil is in the detail and we have not yet had sight of that. We were told that the consultation would be in the Autumn and we are expecting it imminently.
“The problem is that the commercial imperative doesn’t wait on parliamentary timetables. Rent reviews and lease renewals falling in May need to start to be dealt with now and both lessees and landlords need any early sight of the draft legislation and confirmation of that start date.
“Until we get that, business planning and more importantly investment decisions across the sector will be stymied - and protracted uncertainty affects investment across the sector as a whole.”
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “We are awaiting the consultation; there is a real need for DBIS, the industry and tenant’s representatives to work closely together to make this legislation as workable and practical as possible.”