Vince Cable steps in to protect pub landlords from sharp practice by large pub companies


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The Independent Online

Struggling pubs were given a boost today as plans were announced to crack down on sharp practice by large firms which own thousands of bars.

The Independent highlighted fears last week that hundreds more pubs face closure this year without urgent action to drive down rents faced by landlords and the amount they are charged for beer by pub companies.

Ahead of a Commons debate tomorrow, the Business Secretary Vince Cable announced plans for a statutory code of conduct to govern the relationship between pub companies and publicans. It will be enforced by a new adjudicator with the power to intervene in disputes between landlords and pub chains.

Campaigners have called for the regulation of “pubcos”, the large firms which control thousands of bars through agreements with tied landlords.

Previously ministers had insisted that the behaviour of pub chains could be monitored by a system of self-regulation.

Mr Cable said: “There is some real hardship in the pubs sector, with many pubs going to the wall as publicans struggle to survive on tiny margins.

“Some of this is due to pubcos exploiting and squeezing their tenants by unfair practices and a focus on short-term profits.”

Toby Perkins, a shadow business minister, said: “Ministers have finally caved in and accepted their self-regulatory model has failed to ensure fairness in the relationship between the big pub companies and their landlords.”