Duncan has welcomed new rules unveiled by Liberal Democrats in Government to help publicans battling to pay rent or beer costs.
Tenants tied to large pub companies have said they are struggling to make a decent living, with more than half claiming they earn less than the minimum wage. The Coalition Government will give publicans the right to request a rent review after five years, as well as setting up an independent adjudicator with the power to resolve disputes. Under the new statutory code, publicans will benefit from fairer rent assessments.
“More so than traditional family brewers, the more recently established ‘pubcos’ have been the cause of many complaints by publicans of unfair treatment. I know this is an issue of concern to many pub-goers, and one I have been working with colleagues on since entering Parliament.
“In Parliament, I met with a group of Campaign for Real Ale members from Wiltshire to discuss their concerns, and attended meetings of the ‘Save the Pub’ group of MPs from all parties.
“Earlier this year, I spoke in a House of Commons debate on behalf of a pub manager in Melksham, who complains that the pubco he leases from has broken its own code of practice and that of the pub industry on a range of issues. I have also written to Ministers to raise his concerns with them.
“I am pleased that the Coalition Government is giving publicans more rights and transparency in their dealings with pubcos, and introducing an independent adjudicator to make sure they are treated fairly.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick 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 tied to larger pub companies have struggled to make ends meet. Half of UK landlords earn less than the minimum wage.
“The self-regulatory approach has not worked, so these new rules will give fairer treatment for landlords so that they can keep your local pub going strong.”
Under the reforms announced today:
- All tied tenants will be given the power to request a rent review if they have not had one for five years.
- For the first time, tied tenants will also have the right to review the information pub owning companies have used to decide to increase rents. This greater transparency will allow tenants to see what information their landlord has used in calculating the rent, and decide whether an increase is fair.
- There will be additional protection for tied tenants whose pub owning company owns 500 or more tied pubs. If they cannot agree a tied rent with their pub company, these tenants will have the right to request a ‘parallel free-of-tie rent assessment’ to show whether they are worse off than their free-of-tie counterparts. Having this information will give tenants the information they need to negotiate a better, fairer deal with their pub company.
- Tied tenants will have the right to choose whether to be tied for gaming machines.
- Tied tenants will be able to report breaches of the code to a new independent adjudicator who will also arbitrate on rent disputes. The adjudicator will have the power to provide redress where the code has been breached. The adjudicator will also be able to launch investigations into allegations of systemic breaches of the code and to impose sanctions – including financial penalties – if it finds the code has been breached.