Vince Cable's Plans for Pubs
Posted on 20th, Oct 2014
New rules to prevent giant pub companies from abusing their power over tenants were unveiled by the Government yesterday, but the plans for a new code of practice and a “powerful” adjudicator to settle disputes between licensees and pub owners were attacked for creating a new quango and red tape.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said the measures would help pubs that were being treated unfairly by the big chains and could save tenants £100million a year. The measures are targeted at firms with more than 500 pubs and are intended to prevent them abusing the “beer tie” that obliges tenants to buy beer from them.
Cable said that despite four official reports in a decade highlighting the problems faced by publicans self-regulation was not working. “Pubs are small businesses under a great deal of pressure, many of which have had to close. Much of that pressure has come from the powerful pub companies and our plans are designed to rebalance this relationship,” he added.
The proposals, subject to consultation, are designed to ensure that tied pubs are no worse off than free-of-tie pubs and will allow them to sell a guest beer. Disputes will be settled by an adjudicator who can enforce the code and impose fines. Real ale group CAMRA said reform was needed because big pubs had failed to deliver effective self regulation.
Allowing guest beers would be good for 1,000 small brewers locked out of supplying local pubs, it added.
Companies that would be covered by the code include Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns, Greene King, Admiral, Star, Marston’s, Wellington, Trust Inns and Spirit.
Punch Taverns said it was “confused”.
It added: “This year’s Budget provided support but the Government is now proposing a state-backed pubs quango.
“A founding commitment of the coalition was to reduce regulation but ministers now seem intent on wrapping Britain’s pubs in red tape.”
The British Beer and Pub Association said its members were determined to tackle problems through self-regulation.