Pub Adjudicator Could Help Beer Prices Fall
The landlords of pubs tied to major chains appear to have won their fight for better protection from unfair treatment in a move that could help beer prices fall.
Almost half of Britain's 50,000 pubs are run by tenants under so-called "beer-tie" agreements, in which they buy beer from the firm that holds their lease at above market prices in return for subsidised rent or other benefits.
But publicans have long complained of an imbalance, with many saying they earn less than a national minimum wage equivalent salary of £10,000 per year.
The Government confirmed that following a consultation last year it was establishing a statutory code with an independent adjudicator available to resolve disputes.
The adjudicator would have powers to impose sanctions on pub-owning companies failing to comply with the code and the findings of any inquiry into allegations of unfair treatment.
It was confirmed the new rules also included giving tenants the ability to see the reasons for a rent increase and the power to request a rent review every five years.
The measures were announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable just days after Mr Cable was forced to deny involvement in an alleged attempt to remove Mr Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader following dismal election results.
Mr Clegg said: "British pubs are often the centre of our community, a place where we meet friends, watch sport and enjoy a Sunday roast - they are a national treasure and the envy of the world.
"They also contribute billions to our economy every year. But, for too long, landlords who are tied to larger pub companies have struggled to make ends meet.
"The self-regulatory approach hasn't worked, so these new rules will give fairer treatment for landlords so that they can keep your local pub going strong."
Campaign for Real Campaign for Real Ale head of communications Tom Stainer said: "We are delighted that after our 10-year campaign the Government is now introducing a pubs adjudicator to protect the nation's pubs.
"With 28 pubs closing a week it is vital that publicans, who are on the frontline of keeping our valued community pubs open, are given protection from heavy handed business practices from the big pubcos.
"Publicans could see the price they pay for beer fall by 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."
But Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, argued pub-goers would likely face higher prices.
She warned: "The Government's own impact assessment shows that these proposals will close at least 52 pubs with the associated hundreds of job losses.
"A self- regulatory system costing around £100,000 per year will be replaced with a statutory adjudicator costing nearly £2m per annum."