The BBPA has defended the Pubs Code Adjudicator’s decision to refund £800,000 to the pub companies it is tasked with regulating.

The PCA refunded the money – approximately one third of the money it raised from the pub-owning businesses it oversees – because it did not launch any investigations in the year to April and therefore incurred lower staffing, legal and investigatory costs.

That attracted criticism from campaigners who said Paul Newby, who was appointed adjudicator in May 2016, wasn’t being effective enough.

In July he launched the first investigation into Star Pubs & Bars, over three years after he took the job.

But Brigid Simmonds, CEO of the BBPA, told MCA the “pub companies covered by the Code are asked to pay a levy each year to fund the work of the PCA’s office. At the end of each year, any money not spent must be refunded to them.

“We recognise it is difficult for the Adjudicator to judge the funding and resourcing they need at the beginning of the year. In the latest period they overestimated by £800,000 and it is right that this is returned to the companies covered by the Code.

“Despite this refund, the net cost of levy fees for those covered by the Code has increased by 24% in one year, so it is still a large and growing outlay for pub owning businesses. This is in addition to the substantial compliance costs being incurred in order to meet the wider provisions of the Code.”