I am writing following Paul Shiells’ article, “Let’s raise a glass to the pubco model”, (Business comment, 2 March), which I read with growing incredulity.
Camra (the Campaign for Real Ale) has been campaigning for reform of the tied pubco model for ten years and, despite what Mr Shiells implied, we do not seek abolition of the tie – all we are calling for is reform in order that the model operates in a fair and equitable manner, something which it palpably doesn’t do at present.
Independent research conducted by CGA Strategy and commissioned by Camra last year found that 64.5 per cent of Scottish tied licensees report earning less than £15,000 per year, with some even claiming working family tax credits.
Some 75 per cent of Scottish tied licensees considered themselves to be worse off as a result of their tied agreements. Moreover, 96.5 per cent believed they did not pay a reduced rent that fully takes into account the higher prices paid for tied products.
The Market Rent Only option that we advocate (and which is set to be introduced in England and Wales) simply provides the option for licensees to choose to buy their beer on the open market at a fair price.
If pub companies make their deals fair, then licensees won’t need to take up this option. The notion that “tied pub company retail beer prices are on average 6 per cent lower than free-of-tie retail prices” beggars belief and I notice that Mr Shiells offers not a shred of evidence to back that up – perhaps because there is none.
Finally, a resounding 99 per cent of all respondents felt that the Scottish Government should act to ensure the protections afforded to tied licensees in England & Wales are also applied in Scotland.
At present the Pubs Code and Adjudicator is not set to apply in Scotland but we urge the government to ensure Scottish tied licensees are not left behind.
Oxgangs Road North