The Business and Enterprise Committee (Bec) report has found “alarming evidence” that there may be serious problems caused by the dominance of the large pub companies. Well we all knew that didn't we, but now it's official?
The Bec found among other things, that the evidence from Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns gave only a 'partial picture' or was 'positively false'. Appallingly it reveals that 67% of PubCo licensees are earning less than £15,000 a year, despite in some cases having a turnover of over half a million pounds. The Chairman of the committee said “There must be a legal framework that takes account of the imbalance of bargaining power between licensees and pubcos.” The Bec doesn't recommend the scrapping of the beer tie, but says that more detailed analysis of the market is required and that there is a need to protect regional brewers.
So what next? The Committee recommends that the Government refer the matter to the Competition Commission for action, but this could take between two and three years. There is an alternative view, favoured by CAMRA, that the operation of the beer tie could be referred to the Office of Fair Trading to deal with the matter more quickly. However, such is the damning picture painted by the Bec, that a full referral to the Competition Commission seems inevitable.
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