long-standing complaints that tenant publicans “tied” to the UK’s big pub companies are treated unfairly on rents and other issues were addressed by a raft of proposals from the government yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable revealed that the government will give landlords new rights under a statutory code, and appoint an independent adjudicator to resolve disputes.
The adjudicator will probe alleged breaches of the code and impose sanctions on pubcos if they fail to comply. Cable said: “Local pubs and their owners play a vital part in vibrant local communities across the country, as well as making an important contribution to the economy.
“Far too many landlords feel their income is squeezed by big pub companies. So we are taking action to make sure they get a fairer deal. The introduction of a statutory code will make sure that tied tenants get an accurate assessment of how better off they could be and the adjudicator would make sure pubs companies are forced to act to redress the situation if they aren’t behaving responsibly.”
Tied tenants have to purchase beer from their pubco, usually paying higher than market prices in return for subsidised rent or other benefits, leading to complaints they are substantially underpaid.
Publicans in rent disputes with firms with 500 or more tenanted pubs, such as Enterprise Inns, Greene King and Punch Taverns, will also be able in future to get an assessment showing if they are worse off than free-of-tie counterparts.
A spokesman for Camra said the real ale pressure group was “delighted” at the new statutory code when “28 pubs are closing a week”.
He added: “Publicans could see the price they pay for beer fall up to 60p a pint if the adjudicator forces the big pubcos to match open market prices.
“A 60p a pint saving would be a huge boost in the battle to keep pubs open and could lead to cheaper pub prices for customers.”