The British Pub Confederation, which includes the Forum of Private Business, has concluded that the £1.6 million cost of the Pub Adjudicator's office, which was designed to resolve disputes between licensees and pub operating companies is a complete waste of money.
The Confederation has highlighted that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) failed to issue the Pubs Code on time, leaving the controversially appointed adjudicator and his staff with nothing to do.
The Small Business, Enterprise Act 2015 states the Pubs Code must be in place by 26 May 2016, but due to apparent drafting errors in the legislation, BIS have missed this deadline, meaning the Department are in breach of primary legislation.
The British Pub Confederation has written to BIS, calling on them to ensure the Code is in place by the end of June, and have requested pubcos to honour the original date of the code, applying the published version to all tenants with rent review after 26 May 2016.
The appointment of Paul Newby as Pubs Code Adjudicator, has come under serious criticism from tenants and tenant groups, including ten tenant organisations within the British Pub Confederation, due to Mr Newby’s professional links with the pubcos he is expected to regulate, having acted on their behalf in the last 5 years.
It is claimed that Mr Newby also has financial links with the pubcos, through his former company, Fleurets, which reportedly relies on the six big pubcos for a material portion of their turnover.
Ian Cass, managing director of the Forum of Private Business, said: “Surely Anna Soubry and BIS owe the UK’s publicans, many of whom are Forum members, an apology, having failed to implement the Pubs Code properly and having appointed an adjudicator who is seen not to be independent.
"Having committed to the code as a means of protecting the UK's licensees and offering independent adjudication on disputes between them and the various pub operating companies, some of whom are brewers and others pure retail operations, we now have an adjudicator in place who most publicans don’t trust and their representative bodies won’t talk to. It would appear that he is being paid £130,000 a year to adjudicate on a pub code that has been delayed and isn’t in place yet, a situation that can only be seen as a shocking waste of public money”