Fair Deal For Your Local: Time for Pubco Reform
We have a very real opportunity to save the Great British Pub and we need you to get involved.
The Government backed beer and pubs in the recent Budget by abandoning plans for a beer duty hike and instead cutting beer duty for the first time in over 50 years. They are now building on their support for pubs by taking on the large pub companies who are exploiting pub licensees and putting the future of thousands of pubs at risk.
The fundamental problem is that the large pub companies are taking more than is reasonable from the profits of each pub– so licensees and pub goers alike suffer. A fair deal will result in the average tied pub being £4,000 better off annually
The Pubco Model
Around a third of pubs in the UK are owned by large Pub Companies – property companies who lease pubs out to tenants to run as their own business. These pubs are contractually obliged to buy their beer only from the Pubco preventing pub licensees buying on the open market – this is known as the beer tie.
Pubcos make huge excess profits by using the beer tie to force licensees and ultimately the consumer to pay high prices. Licensees can pay at least 50% more for beer than a free-of-tie publican. Alongside this pubco licensees often find themselves paying above market value rents and have no independent adjudicator to settle disputes.
Time for Reform
The Government is now proposing a package of measures to deliver a fair deal for local pubs, with:
• A powerful new Code and a Watchdog to stop abuses by big pub companies
• A new choice for licensees to opt out of restrictive tied agreements and just pay a fair market rent to their pubco
• Fair rents and beer prices for tied publicans, allowing them to thrive
Pub companies with fewer than 500 pubs will be exempt from these proposals but must abide by a separate voluntary code.
If we succeed with this campaign we can expect better pubs, fairer prices and fewer pub closures.
Your support in getting us this far really has made all the difference. However, the battle isn't won yet and we now need to ensure the Government sees its plans through. To make the most of this opportunity there are three things you can do right now:
1. Ensure your voice is heard by taking five minutes to take part in the Government's pubco reform survey
2. Help build the case for reform by sending in your own submission to the consultation. There's ideas on what you could say on the campaign's website
3. Sign up to be a Fair Deal for Your Local Campaign Supporter to hear more about the campaign and how you can get involved.
You have until 14th June to take part.
The “I'm backing the Pub” campaign brings together all those with an interest in supporting and promoting the British pub.
Ultimately, the campaign is a grass roots campaign that is looking to help mobilise everyone who wants to see the local pub flourish and to allow them to have their say to the politicians.
For more details go to the 'Back the Pub' website.
LocAle is an important initiative and fits well with the growing awareness and sustainability ethos across both Government and the Real World, which we populate.
Liverpool and District CAMRA has a number of pubs that will always have on at least one local beer.
Check out our dedicated LocAle page for more information including a list of pubs that are in the scheme.
We are currently living in strange times, with the unprecedented worldwide recession, the government in its death throes randomly flinging out ill conceived policies, growing unemployment and rising unrest evident all around us. And against this backdrop the enjoyment of a quality beer in a convivial atmosphere can sometimes seem relatively unimportant to all of us - even CAMRA members (on occasion) - but off course even more so to none drinkers and more worryingly the disconnected MPs, who are supposed to represent us.
Pubs and drinking are under constant attack from all sides with the recession and unemployment affecting the change in our pockets, the media portrayal of all drinkers as a problem requiring fixing, and the government considering taxation as a way to deal with binge drinking. Meanwhile the pubco’s are cutting and running from struggling lessees in their droves, while the humble local pubs struggle to deal with the ongoing impacts from the smoking ban and escalator taxes on the pint (not to mention numerous side effects from other ill thought government policies - entertainment licenses anyone?). And we won’t even mention Cains.
The pubs themselves in a struggle to survive look for where margins can be squeezed, through price increases, the removal of lined glasses, or cutting back the opening hours and the staff working there.
The 24/7 news culture goes for headlines of course in the battle for news ratings and 100,000 members enjoying a pint or three of Ruby Mild or XXXB is not attractive to them while kids drinking vodka bottles on street corners or youths in town falling over or fighting makes good tele if poor journalism. Unfortunately the very thing that sells the Daily Mail, or fills ITV news programs is currently how government policy is researched and actioned.
All this goes to make this real ale fan feel a little like the boy with the finger in a dyke. But we are 100,000 strong now as members, and there are many more non-members out there who feel the same. We all have fingers and we should feel like we can do something.
As CAMRA we try hard to fight for policies that protect or help nurture the industry - and the output - which we so love. We have had some good successes one of which LocAle fits well with the zeitgeist of sustainability and the general increasing desire for local produce. Many of these local brewers are small and while some may be perfectly formed now can quickly become damaged through ‘small’ tinkering of government be it national or local and where are they going to sell their beer when the pubs shut down?
So as an individual where do you fit in; where you can help, which part of the dyke are you going to save? There are many options worth considering some of which may involve a little work, but even that should be enjoyable. To show your support to CAMRA and the real ale industry you could;
Remember if you feel like you don’t have the time to help just stick with the drinking real ale at your local or favourite pub.