We should be raising a glass to Vince Cable’s pub industry plans

 

Outlook To listen to the trade body for pub companies, Vince Cable’s Department for Business, Innovations and Skills has just been responsible for an innovation that will have more than 50 British pubs calling last orders for the final time.

The ministry’s dastardly plans to swaddle the industry in red tape will throw hundreds of people out of work and destroy a model system of self-policing.

Why then is the Campaign for Real Ale, among others, raising a glass that is more than half full to salute Mr Cable’s plans for a new system of regulation?

After months of dithering, the BIS has said that pubcos are going to be forced to abide by a statutory code of practice governing their relations with “tied” tenants – the publicans who have to buy their beer from the company that holds the lease on their premises in return for, perhaps, cheaper rents or other support.

These people will in future be able to request a review of those rents if they haven’t had one for five years. They will also be able to call on an independent adjudicator to help with disputes (for a small fee).

The adjudicator will have teeth, too, with the power to impose sanctions and provide redress. Tenants tied to bigger pub companies, Punch, Greene King, Enterprise Inns and so on, will even be able to request an assessment to show whether their ties leave them better or worse off overall than their tie-free counterparts.

It’s true that some of the more radical proposals have been shelved for now. But that’s not stopped the British Beer & Pub Association from crying blue murder.

Which suggests BIS might be on the right track.

The BBPA has tried to strike a populist note by warning drinkers of higher  beer costs to come, and muttering  darkly about reduced investment and support to tenants.

Here’s the thing. The adjudicator will cost about £2m a year when compared to the current system of self regulation which the BBPA says costs about £100,000. Quite the price hike, then.

However, compared to the cost of financing the industry’s debt, it’s no more than a drop in an ocean of stale lager. Punch, for example, recorded underlying financing costs on its £2.25bn debt mountain for the 28 weeks to 1 March  of £87.3m.

While the BBPA says the 50 pub closure estimate comes from the Government’s own figures, that number is still dwarfed by the mass shutdown that’s been occurring up and down Britain as a result of the industry’s addiction to suicidal levels of debt financing combined with catastrophic mismanagement.

The measures announced by BIS may ultimately save at least some pubs by levelling the playing field (a bit) between tenants – more than half of whom have been on less than minimum wage – and pub companies. We should raise a glass to that, even if it has taken a while for the pint to be poured.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border