Colin Valentine: Publicans sold short by own suppliers

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CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, fully supports the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign and has presented new evidence to MPs revealing that the majority of publicans tied to the big pub-owning companies earn less than the minimum wage.

A representative sample of more than 600 licensees were interviewed by research firm CGA Strategy, with the results showing that a shocking 60 per cent of licensees tied to the big pub-owning companies earn less than £10,000 a year, as opposed to only 25 per cent of free-of-tie lessees.

This is in stark contrast to the opposite end of the spectrum, which shows less than 1 per cent of tied lessees earning more than £45,000 a year, as opposed to 20 per cent of free-of-tie tenants.

For years, despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the large pub-owning companies have said that self-regulation was working.

Camra applauds the government for seeing through this sham and standing up to them by implementing a statutory code of practice and an independent adjudicator and would urge them to push through these plans without delay.

Across the country, pubs are the beating hearts of the community and many of them would be perfectly viable if it were not for the large pub-owning companies charging above market rent and inflated beer prices in business deals that verge on outright exploitation.

As an example of the latter, one of the major players in Scotland charges between 20 and 33 per cent more to its tied tenants for many brands than it charges to its free-of-tie customers or than tied tenants could buy the products for on the open market.

The big pub-owning companies are contributing to the destruction of this country’s pubs by failing to support their licensees with competitive wholesale beer prices and rents.

Every pub failure is a disaster for the individuals involved as well as for the community built around them and it is time the big pub-owning companies were forced to take a longer-term view and help their licensees rather than the short-term view, which sees them screw every last penny they can from their tenants.

• Colin Valentine is national chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale.