Government's 'missed opportunity' to improve choice of beers at the bar
By David Wood | 1st November 2023
Government Review "missed opportunity" to improve choice of local and independent beers at the bar
Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has condemned the Government over lack of action to support publicans and boost consumer choice at the bar
Laws governing the relationship between pub-owning businesses and the tied tenants who run those pubs won't be changed or improved, the Government has announced.
It comes as the Department for Business and Trade published its response to a statutory review of the Pubs Code for England and Wales - a set of rules governing the relationship between pub-owning businesses and their tied tenants.
Consumer group CAMRA wanted to see changes to give tied pub tenants more choice over which beers they offer, including the right to a guest draught beer or cider from local and independent producers instead of having to buy a restricted range of stock at set prices from the pub-owning company.
The Campaign for Real Ale also urged the Government to beef up the Pubs Code so that more publicans could benefit from protections and rights when it comes to the way they are treated by big pub-owning businesses.
Without changes to make sure tied pub tenants are treated fairly and are able to turn a profit under their contracts, it is feared that more pubs will be forced to close and be lost to their communities.
Instead of making improvements to the laws around pubs and tied tenants in response to changes to the industry in recent years, the Government decided not to act.
Nick Boley, CAMRA campaigns director, said: "The lack of action to improve protections for pub tenants and to improve choice for consumers at the bar is deeply disappointing.
"Changing these laws to allow a better range of beers on offer from small, local and independent breweries would have increased choice for consumers. It's not fair that large pub-owning businesses can restrict landlords to buying certain beers often at above-market value and prevent them from supporting small, local breweries by offering these beers on tap.
"CAMRA is also worried that the existing Pubs Code isn't meeting its key principles - that tied tenants should be no worse off than other publicans and that they can expect fair and lawful dealing from pub owning-businesses. Research carried out by CAMRA last year found that less than a quarter of tied tenants who responded said that they were treated fairly and lawfully, or that they were no worse off.
"The Government needs to re-think this decision to do nothing and instead improve the Pubs Code so that we can see a thriving pub sector in England and Wales where the rights of pub tenants are protected, and consumers have a diversity of venues to choose from. Otherwise, the current corporate stranglehold will only tighten, and we risk seeing more pubs shutting their doors and being lost to our communities."
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