The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) is facing fresh calls for a split between its brewing and retailing arms in the wake of damning criticism from the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee (BISC) report into the pubco-tenant relationship. Brewing members are believed to be concerned that the valid arguments over duty and VAT have been sidelined by the beer-tie debate and that brewers and pub retailers are at odds over issues such as minimum pricing. Industry sources have suggested that one possible solution could be a split between the brewing and retailing arms, with a common agenda agreed to cover areas such as lobbying on VAT and duty. Questions have also been raised over whether there may be a bigger role for the BII to play in lobbying on behalf of retailers, perhaps in conjunction with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. However, BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds rejected the calls, arguing that there is a huge interdependence between beer and pubs. Stonegate Pub Company chairman Ian Payne said there was a “major conflict” between the interests of brewers and pub retailers, which cannot be “aligned” within one organisation. “There is no question this split should happen. I can’t see that someone whose principle customer is Tesco has the same interest as pub retailers. We are a member of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers because it represents retailers.” His call was backed up by MP and Save the Pub Group chair Greg Mulholland, who wants a return of the old Brewers’ Society. “The BBPA is now seen, including in Westminster and Whitehall, to be simply the mouthpiece of a few giant pubcos and as a result is no longer able to provide adequate leadership on other crucial issues, such as beer duty and supermarket pricing, which is partly why the industry is not being listened to on those issues. “There’s no way back for the BBPA in its current form, if it wants to speak for brewing and not just the pubcos. “It is also artificial to pretend that the interest of British brewing and pubcos are the same, often they are at odds with each other.” However, Simmonds countered this by saying: “I would have to ask who would benefit from this split? From a Government perspective there would be more associations to deal with, so I don’t think that is a benefit.” She said the BBPA has been “hugely successful” at fighting the industry cause on a range of issues. “Take the last argument on PPL. Only an organisation with the financial resources we have could have taken on that battle and it resulted in millions of pounds being refunded to pubs.” She said the success of the BBPA’s work was just coming to fruition with the deregulation of music licensing and the simplifying of licensing applications, as well as the introduction of two-third pint glasses and the taxation reduction on beer at or below 2.8% ABV — both of which became law on 1 October. She admitted the BISC was a major distraction, but said: “I am totally clear on the criticisms made of the BBPA, but at the end of the day it is only the vehicle. “We are about the members and we are there to promote everything they do.”