The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has announced a series of reforms to its framework code of practice governing pubcos’ relationships with their tenants. The timing of the announcement, on the day that the Government is to reveal what actions it plans to take on reforming the pubco/tenant relationship, fuels speculation that the aim is to deter the Government from pursuing substantial reforms. The commitments are: • A more robust accreditation process for company codes of practice, which would require reaccreditation by the BII every three years. • A new arbitration service, the Pub Independent Conciliation and Arbitration Service (PICAS) for disputes other than rent, with the ability to provide compensation, to which all tenants and lessees could appeal. Its establishment would be funded by BBPA members, and it would complement the existing low-cost PIRRS arbitration scheme which relates only to rents. • A legally binding status for the industry framework code, which will be included in future primary lease and tenancy agreements by ‘reference’, and will be offered as a supplementary contract for incorporation into existing agreements. • A strengthened industry framework code, following a review, undertaken with the BII and FLVA and involving other stakeholders. • An enhanced provision of independent expert business advice and setting the highest standards of training. The BBPA said the measures “are the result of constructive dialogue between the BPPA, the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, industry partners and campaign groups”. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Small businesses are under immense pressure. There will always be a place for tied pubs as a low cost means of entry for self-employed pub entrepreneurs and we recognise that would-be and existing licensees need support and a clear understanding of what it takes to run a pub. “Significant progress has been achieved by member companies operating tied tenancies and leases. In its first year, the Pub Industry Framework Code of Practice has improved the transparency and openness of the commercial relationship between pub companies and lessees. Independent research has demonstrated the new code’s rapid acceptance within the industry and is increasingly understood by licensees. “Today’s announcement is a further sign of our commitment to work with our members and industry representatives to strengthen the self-regulatory framework and the health of the sector as a whole. We look forward to working with industry partners to improve the advice, financial assistance and security offered to new and existing publicans so they can continue to invest, grow and create jobs.” The Government is set to release its response today to the damning Business, Innovation & Skills Committee (BISC) report into pubcos from September, which included calls for a statutory code of practice backed up by a full suite of sanctions.

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