Pub companies need to show reform is working to stave off government pressure

Pub companies need to show reform is working to stave off government pressure

New codes of practice covering the way UK pub companies operate are “making a difference” it has been claimed – but the industry still faces the threat of government intervention.

The codes have been introduced after a series of MP reports criticising companies’ treatment of their tenants. Last year, the UK Government vowed to act if pub companies did not reform their 'ties' with tenanted pubs by June 2011.

There is severe financial pressure on the UK on-trade, which has exacerbated an already tense relationship between pub companies and their tenanted pubs.

To assess progress made on reform, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Independent Pub Confederation commissioned a survey of 500 UK publicans. The results, released last week, found that only 76% of them knew a code existed. Just 16% of new tenants had been offered a free-of-tie option, allowing them to buy beer from any supplier they choose.

Brigid Simmonds, the BBPA's chief executive, said that the results showed “solid progress” has been made in improving the tie between pub companies and licensees. 

But, Simon Clarke, a spokesman for the anti-beer tie Fair Pint campaign, argued it was “quite a limited survey that did not address the real issue of tenant profitability”.

Meanwhile, a new MP-led inquiry into the issue is due to kick-off next month, which could put back the deadline for reform.