A report into the first statutory review of the pubs code and pubs code adjudicator was praised by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) as it recognised the code does not require fundamental changes.
“There are some aspects that lack clarity for stakeholders, both pub-owning businesses and tenants," BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin added.
“However, this is a complicated piece of legislation and we welcome that proposed changes by Government to the code will be subject to consultation next year, which we look forward to responding to.£
“It is common knowledge that our sector has been devastated by the Covid-19 crisis," McClarkin continued. "To ensure our pubs are able to play a leading role in the recovery of our economy and communities, a stimulus package of support is going to be needed. This includes no more red tape in the form of major changes to the code.
“The crisis has shown just how strong the partnership between pub-owning businesses and tenants is, and we are glad that the report acknowledges the vital support that has been given to tenants by them. All the companies regulated by the code have provided vast rent concessions and support. In comparison, many commercial landlords have provided little to nothing. Clearly, the leased and tenanted model still remains a great way to own and run your own business.”
Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chairman Nik Antona criticised the Government’s course of action of changes needed.
“While it is good to hear that the Government has published the pubs code review and agree with our assessment that the code is not working as it should, the proposed course of action falls far short of the changes needed to deliver on the principles of ‘no worse off’ and ‘fair and lawful dealing’ enshrined in the code," he said.
Potentially unlawful treatment
Antona added: “The review stops short of making more enforcement powers available to the pubs code adjudicator and doesn’t recommend the comprehensive changes needed to address operational issues that have arisen since the code came into force, or to require pub companies to publish information about rents and tied prices in the interests of transparency.
“We look forward to working with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, and to furthering a case for the positive changes to the code that are being considered as a result of the review.
“CAMRA will continue to fight for proper reform of the pubs code and for the rights of tied tenants across the UK. At a time when the outlook is grim for many pubs and brewers, it’s vital that tenants are supported, rather than subjected to unfair or potentially unlawful treatment.
“We will also be writing to the six regulated pub companies to ask them to confirm what rent support they will provide to both tied and free of tie tenants in England during the second lockdown period and call on other smaller pub companies and brewers across England to do the same.“