Voluntary agreement is a ‘landmark for Scottish tied pubs’, writes SBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds
A NEW voluntary code of practice for tied tenants in Scotland, which came into force on July 21, will enshrine protections for pubs across the country.
It will safeguard tenants, protect investment in the sector, and will ensure that consumers continue to enjoy a great choice of beers when they visit a Scottish pub.
This date of implementation is significant; the statutory codes in England and Wales came into force on this date and, whilst they do not apply in Scotland, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has ensured Scottish tied tenants continue to enjoy the protections of the self-regulatory system.
This code is a landmark for Scottish tied pubs because it is the first designed specifically for Scotland.
The Scottish pubs market is markedly different from the rest of the UK, with just 17% of pubs operating under a beer tie compared with 40% in the UK as a whole.
Despite the Scottish tied sector being smaller than in England and Wales, tied pubs still represent a fantastic opportunity for self-employed entrepreneurs to secure a low-cost means of entry into the business.
The industry also serves as a major employer, especially of Scotland’s young people, offering lifelong career opportunities.
Every pub in Scotland contributes on average £100,000 to its local economy, while the wider sector adds over £1.6 billion to the national economy.
The new Scottish code allows Scottish tenants access to independent, low-cost resolution procedures in a way similar to the codes in England and Wales. This covers rent, through PIRRS (Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme), and for other issues through PICA-Service (Pubs Independent Conciliation and Arbitration Service), both of which have Scottish-specific expert representation to ensure the landscape in Scotland is accounted for.
These services make for a low-cost and flexible system that has already worked well, and I am delighted that the code ensures its continuation, with the Pub Governing Body overseeing the arrangements as before.
Pub companies, of course, want their business partnerships with pub tenants to succeed, and companies already provide a lot of help to tenants with investment, with advice, and with training.
The new Scottish code, developed with tenants’ groups and representatives from the industry, can only add to this support.
• Brigid Simmonds is the chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA).