The problem with the Beer Tie? – Part One
For some years now, the ‘beer tie’ has been the bugbear for the pub industry; it’s been touted as the one of the main reasons why around 25 pubs are closing ever week in the U.K. and in 2010, 1300 pubs in total shut their doors. Some 13,000 jobs were lost due to those closures but just as importantly the local communities lost a focal point. In rural areas this can be devastating for the local population.
So what is the beer tie? It’s the phrase used to describe the obligation pub landlords have to only buy beer through the pub company from which the premises are leased. While this doesn’t sound too destructive at first glance, it takes on a whole new perspective when you find out that the beer can cost up to 45% more then the prices paid by non-ties pubs.
The pub companies, which own around half of the U.K’s 50,000 pubs and operate them on
a ‘tied’ basis, spuriously claim that other benefits of the tie make up for the high beer prices but the numbers don’t bear that out; for example research by the Institute for Public Policy Reform (IPPR) shows that during the current financial problems facing the economy, 57% of tied pub landlords said they were struggling, compared to 43% of non tied landlords. More damningly, 90% of those tied landlords blame the beer tie for their problems.
There is even an organisation dedicated solely to this issue, the Fair Pint Campaign, which is small but fast growing group of tied pub landlords agitating for government legislation to protect pubs and landlords. Spokesman for the Fair Pint, Steve Corbett, calls the tie “one of the last Great British scams” and says that thousands of tenants around the country have ben left in deep financial trouble by the big pub companies.
Last word today goes to Hillaire Belloc:
“When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England.”