The Government has chosen not to implement a statutory adjudicator for the pubco/tenant relationship, instead putting its faith in promises of more robust action by the industry. A self-regulatory package announced today includes: - Strengthening the industry’s framework code of practice on full repairing leases, and making it legally binding. Action includes banning the enforcement of upward-only rent review and forcing pubcos to be more transparent on areas such as rent calculations, charges for dilapidation repairs, income from gaming machines and business development manager training. - A Pub Independent Conciliation Advisory Service (PICAS) to be set up to provide mediation and arbitration. - A three-yearly re-accreditation process for company codes of practice, from June 2013, achieved through examination of annual compliance reports and spot-checks. - A new Pubs Advisory Service (PAS) established to provide free advice to all prospective and current tenants and lessees. The measures fall short of statutory code adjudicator, as recommended by the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee in its report from September. The Government said: “Introducing PICAS and the three-yearly re-accreditation process will have a similar effect to establishing a Public Adjudicator but can be done much more quickly.” Consumer minister Edward Davey said: “This is good news for everyone to raise their glass to. It gives the industry more certainty, which is vital to the success of Britain’s family brewers; and it gives pub-goers the knowledge that they are drinking a fairer pint down their local. “The advantage of this self-regulatory approach is that it will deliver these reforms much more quickly than could be done through legislation. I would like to thank the Committee for its focused scrutiny on this issue, which has been essential in driving through necessary improvements. I am confident that the industry will lose no time in fulfilling the commitments it has made.” Paul Wells, chairman of the Independent Family Brewers of Britain, said: “This is good news for smaller brewers because it lifts the recent cloud hanging over the brewery tie and the traditional tenancy agreements which we all operate. During this long enquiry successive Select Committees received no complaints about brewery tenancies and we believe that the current code of practice developed by the BBPA, BII and FLVA provides for the resolution of brewery and licensee issues in traditional tenancy agreements. “In my view many family brewers will now increase investment into their pubs because of the support the Government has announced for the traditional brewery tenancy agreement and the beer tie’.” The Government said that the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) is expected to complete the legal processes as soon as possible, with a view to implementing their commitment by the end of 2011. It is expected that PICAS will be set up by the end of February 2012. However, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “We are obviously deeply disappointed that the Government has chosen not to follow the Select Committee’s route map to lasting, meaningful reform. We still believe that the options laid down by the Committee represent the best means to deliver that and today’s announcement can only be a partial solution. “Ministers have mapped out an alternative route but hand discussion over the content of the code back to the industry. This is critical and it must be rapidly and significantly strengthened and enhanced if it is to become a genuine industry document. It is also key that we clarify as a matter of urgency how company codes – as distinct from the industry code - are to be monitored and enforced. “Failure to do so will mean there is a very real danger that the major pub companies will face less onerous obligations than they do at present. “Today’s announcement can only be a starting point and – as we have consistently stated – we stand ready to work constructively with any and all parties to ensure it addresses the outstanding and substantive concerns of existing lessees which are not addressed in today’s proposals. ALMR intends to lead a debate on a tenant-driven agenda to secure what tenants want and need from a code and an enforcement and compliance regime. “More can and needs to be done at an industry level to complete the package of reform – without that, the industry will not be able to draw a line under this most intractable of disputes and provide the much needed certainty and stability lessees need to invest, thrive and deliver the best consumer experience.” The BII, which monitors compliance with the codes of practice, said: “We welcome in principle these new proposals which have the potential to be a step forward in a number of areas. “Proper monitoring of code compliance is vital, and BII will work with BBPA and other partners to secure an arrangement that we can all have confidence in, which stands as a suitable basis for ongoing code accreditation.”

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