IPC: We are the True Voice of Publicans

The newly formed Independent Pub Confederation last night told a meeting of MPs that it and not the BBPA was the true voice of publicans and lessees and set out a clear set of proposals which it believes will deliver the change required to secure the future of the British Pub.

Speaking at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group convened to discuss the recent pub trade mediation, the ongoing BESC inquiry and the OFT Report, members of the IPC unveiled the umbrella group’s manifesto for change. The BBPA refused to appear alongside the IPC and the two group’s briefed MPs separately.

Kate Nicholls the Secretary of the IPC said:

“The BBPA’s failure to debate the issue openly with the IPC in front of MPs means that they have forfeited the right to be considered the voice of the publican. We stand ready to debate and work with any interested party – any time, any place, anywhere.

“The IPC is the body which is standing up for the long-term interests of pubs. We have set out a clear list of changes which the industry needs to deliver to fully respond to the concerns of the Business and Enterprise Select Committee. These include ensuring that tied agreements offer tenants clear and quantifiable benefits by allowing tied tenants the choice of going free of tie when leases are renewed or at rent reviews and ensuring that rents are set at a level which takes account of the need of tenants to earn a living from their businesses and ensures that tied tenants are not financially worse of the than free of tie tenants.

“We challenge the BBPA be clear about the changes they are proposing to deliver this. To date, they have yet to do so or even openly publish their revised code. In the absence of meaningful proposals on these issues, we can do nothing but concur with the Business and Enterprise Committee conclusion that that Government intervention in the market is required, including a reference by Ministers to the Competition Commission.”

At last night’s meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group CAMRA made it clear to MPs that they rejected the response of the OFT to their super-complaint and would be working with other members of the IPC to refer ties to the Competition Commission.

Jonathan Mail, CAMRA’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs said:

“The OFT has spectacularly missed the point that restricted competition in the wholesale market will inevitably harm consumers. Their analysis established that prices in tied pubs were 8 pence a pint higher than prices in free of tie pubs but concluded that this difference was marginal. The OFT perversely excluded lower managed pub prices from this analysis; did not take into account that greater competition would bring down prices across the board; nor did they consider differing levels of amenity.”

“It appears that the OFT have misdirected themselves as to their responsibilities under the Enterprise Act 2002 and that they have failed to take reasonable steps to properly understand the pub sector. CAMRA is therefore lobbying Government to overturn the OFT’s decision and to refer the issue of supply ties to the Competition Commission for a market investigation.”