The first hearing for the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee’s (BISC) follow-up inquiry into pubcos is scheduled for next Thursday (30 June). The hearing is due to begin at 9.30am and will feature: Neil Robertson, chief executive of the BII; Phil Dixon, trade consultant; David Rusholme, director of the Valuation Professional Group at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); Rob May, chief rent assessor at Enterprise Inns; and Garry Mallen, an independent pub valuer, pub operator and member of the Independent Pub Confederation (IPC). A second hearing is expected on the following week but this has yet to be confirmed. BISC is scrutinising how the industry has implemented the changes demanded by its predecessor the Business & Enterprise Committee ahead of the deadline for reform at the end of July. BISC has previously outlined the areas that it will examine during its investigation: • If the British Beer & Pub Association and IPC are now in dialogue and if so how this is progressing; • Whether the pub companies’ individual codes of practice are robust enough and whether the major pub companies have built upon the de-minimus requirements of the BBPA’s Framework Code; • If the codes of practice are being complied with; • How the BII is policing the codes and whether this is effective; • The enforceability of the codes; • If AWP machines are now being treated more fairly and tenants are being given a genuinely free of tie option; • The treatment of flow monitoring equipment; • The advice being provided by BBPA to prospective publicans; • The effectiveness of the new RICS guidance on pub rental valuations and whether it provides clarity on the principle that a tied tenant should be no worse off than a free of tie tenant by defining what constitutes a countervailing benefit; • The creation of an industry benchmarking survey; • The availability and effectiveness of complaints procedures and an independent disputes mechanism; • The availability of genuine free of tie options ie an open market rent review under RICS new guidelines, ability to buy beer from any source; and • The guidance from BII on the type of pub leases available and what the options mean in reality to prospective lessees. This includes free of tie, tied pricing and discounts as well as the business support countervailing benefits available.