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Government reforms are too weak to save Britain’s pubs

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today criticised the Government for declining to address key failings in the pubs market in its response to a call for Government intervention from the Business Select Committee. The 130,000 strong consumer group claims the failure to take action to require pub companies to offer genuine free of tie and guest beer options to lessees will do little to re-balance the relationship between struggling licensees and large pub companies.

CAMRA has expressed serious concern that the deal announced today between Government and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) may not be realised given pub companies’ history of broken promises and abandoned commitments and has questioned why there has not been a full public consultation to consider the agreed measures. The BBPA and the large pub companies have repeatedly promised fundamental change since 2004 but on every occasion have failed to deliver.

The reform package promises some small steps forward including a new arbitration service, a requirement to follow rental guidelines and to publish national wholesale price lists. These small steps alone however will not be sufficient to avert the disaster facing many thousands of tied pubs being charged excessive rents and forced to purchase grossly overpriced tied products.

Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said: ‘The Government has been cavalier in rejecting the recommendations of the Business Select Committee and instead putting its faith in the ability of the very companies accused of malpractice to finally put their house in order. The lack of any formal public consultation on this package of measures is truly remarkable and suggests a failure of Government to listen to all interested parties including the consumer.

‘We are pleased the Government has recognised the serious problems of unfair practice in the relationship between the large pub companies and lessees but deeply disappointed that they are proposing only a weak package of reforms. Given repeated broken promises from the pub companies, consumers and publicans will no doubt be highly sceptical whether much of this will be delivered.
‘Pubs are vitally important not just to the millions of regular pub goers but also to the health of communities and the overall economy. The failure of the Government to secure a more substantial reform package is a massive blow to the Prime Minister’s aspirations to lead a “pub friendly Government”.’

END

Notes to editors-
The full Business Select Committee press release and response are available online at http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/Detail.aspx?ReleaseID=422211&NewsAreaID=2.
For further information-
CAMRA Press Office, 01727 798443

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