GMB calls for fair deal for tied pub tenants

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GMB Southern, the union for tied pub tenants, is calling on MPs to attend the debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday 24th January on the failure of the Pub Code that became law in July 2016 to address the continued exploitation of tied pub tenants.

GMB is very concerned that tied pub tenants are still not getting a fair deal from pub freeholders despite the change in the law in Parliament that GMB was instrumental in securing in late 2014.
Parliament in 2014 voted for a free of tie option, known as the Market Rent Only option (MRO). Under this change, at certain points in the lease agreement, the freeholders were obliged to offer a tied tenant the option to buy drinks in the open wholesale market – usually at half of the tied price – thus opening the way for fair rents for the tied tenants.

However, the aim of the law was undermined by 900 changes to the draft code after the election of a Tory Government in 2015 which either wrecked or unduly complicated the law.
GMB Southern is aiming to get the Code changed to secure the original aims of law.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary for Southern Region, said: “GMB were part of a long and sustained campaign to secure this welcome change in 2014. It was a long hard struggle as follows:
• From 2004 there were four Business and Industry Select Committee inquiries into the tied, tenanted and leased model. These found fundamental and consistent abuses of tied tenants by the majority of Pub Owning Business and brewers. (2004, 2008, 2009 and 2012)
• The recommendation of the 2009 inquiry was that statutory legislation should offer tied tenants a free of tie option.
• Despite agreeing this, the coalition government once in power recommended further self-regulation.
• In 2012 a further investigation into self-regulation occurred and it was then agreed that a public consultation would take place.

“The decisive change in the law took place as part of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act of 2015. Under this Act the Secretary of State was required to produce a Pub Code to implement the new rules.

“The 2015 election of a Tory Government led to the British Beer and Pub Association watering down the Code. The Code that came into force in July 2016 had 900 changes in wording from the earlier draft.

“These changes either wrecked or unduly complicated the implementation of the original aims of the code.

“This is a morality tale of the powerful brewers and property interests using its power and money to secure small print changes in the Code to frustrate what persistent GMB campaigning achieved in Parliament in 2014.

“GMB tenant representatives report that as a consequence the abuse of the tied tenant is worse now than at any time in the years GMB since sought a fair deal for tenants and pub users.
“This is a scandalous and not acceptable.

“GMB Southern are calling on the Labour party opposition and other parties in this hung parliament to build a majority to rid the Code of the wrecking clauses and to simplify the Code to achieve the objective agreed in Parliament in 2014.

“GMB Southern will persist to see through to implementation the changes agreed in Parliament in 2014.”

Contact: Dave Mountford 0779 2198954 or Chris Wright ‭07502 214457 or GMB Press Office 07970 114 762