PCA review divides opinion

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

PCA review: Gov concludes adjudicator had shown improvements (Credit: Getty/Henrik Sorensen)
PCA review: Gov concludes adjudicator had shown improvements (Credit: Getty/Henrik Sorensen)

Related tags Legislation Government Pca

Voices from the sector have clashed over the results of the review into the operation and performance of the pubs code adjudicator (PCA).

The review, which investigated the effectiveness of the PCA between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2022, concluded the adjudicator had shown improvements in the professionalisation of the support available to tied tenants during this period and did not consider further amendments to the code “necessary”.

However, to ensure the code’s operation remains consistent and effective, the PCA will undertake further work with regulated businesses of a Market Rent Only (MRO) “opt-out” to determine the level of interest and concerns from tied tenants and will continue to work with the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

While the BBPA stated the review showed the partnership pub model is the “backbone” of the British pub sector and “vital to its success”, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) “condemned” the “lack of action” to improve protections for pub tenants.

Missed opportunity 

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “We’re glad to see the current partnership pub model and the support from POBs so roundly commended by the Government, especially the recognition of there being little evidence of unfair treatment across the sector.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Government to ensure the code works in the most optimal and cost-effective manner for pub owning businesses and their tenants going forwards.” 

Meanwhile, CAMRA described the review as a “missed opportunity” to support the sector and called for changes to give tied pub tenants more choice over which beers they offer, including the right to a guest draught beer or cider from local and independent producers instead of having to buy a restricted range of stock at set prices from the pub-owning company.

The body also urged the Government to “beef up” the pubs code so more publicans could benefit from protections and rights when it comes to the way they are treated by big pub-owning businesses. 

And it fears without changes to make sure tied pub tenants are treated fairly and are able to turn a profit under their contracts, more pubs will be forced to close and be lost to their communities. 

Vital community assets 

“The lack of action to improve protections for pub tenants and to improve choice for consumers at the bar is deeply disappointing,” said Nick Boley, CAMRA campaigns director. 

“Changing these laws to allow a better range of beers on offer from small, local and independent breweries would have increased choice for consumers.

“It’s not fair large pub-owning businesses can restrict landlords to buying certain beers often at above-market value and prevent them from supporting small, local breweries by offering these beers on tap.”

Though Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake stated the Government recognised pubs as “vital community assets”, providing jobs and contributing to “local economies and national prosperity”.

He continued: “The results of the PCA’s 2023 Tied Tenant Survey, which, while out of scope of this review period, nonetheless confirms key findings of the PCA’s 2022 Survey, showing that most tied tenants are satisfied with their experiences and that the provisions introduced by the Code are generally useful.” 

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