David Miliband keeps political focus on the tie by raising the future of the pub during his leadership campaign. He stated: "One of the biggest problems facing pubs is the 'tie' – forcing some pub landlords to buy their beer and other services solely from the pub companies ('pubcos') they rent from. This means many of them pay over the odds, which reduces their profitability and increases prices for drinkers."
Ed Davey, the coalition’s Minister with responsibility for consumer and competition policy confirms that the new Government would stick to the timetable laid out by the Labour Government and would take action to give tenants freedom from the tie if the industry fails to bring this about on a voluntary basis by June 2011.
The Conservative Party promises to introduce a statutory code of practice if the industry fails to reform itself and the Liberal Democrats also propose action to allow tenants to opt out of the beer tie, be allowed one guest beer and end upward only rent clauses.
The Labour Party Manifesto promises: “A non-tie option should be available for pub tenants; we will act if the industry fails to make progress on this.” Action is also promised to end restrictive covenants on which stop other operators re-opening closed pubs when they are sold on.
The Government’s response to the Select Committee’s report fully supported its criticisms of the industry. The Government said that statutory action should be taken if the committee judged that the introduction of a voluntary code of practice had not significantly increased the fairness of the relationship between tied tenants and pub owning companies by June 2011.
In a major victory for Fair Pint, the Government made it clear that the Code of Practice should also incorporate a beer/non-beer tie option for tenants with a commitment that the Government will act if the industry does not. In addition the Government said that pub owning companies should introduce voluntary provision for tenants to offer a guest beer outside the traditional beer tie and the Government would act to place this on a statutory footing if the industry failed to deliver.
The Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee publishes its second report on the industry within less than 12 months. The report stated that the Committee stood behind the criticisms contained its previous report and had concerns about the willingness of the pub sector to take action to rebalance the relationship between them and their tied tenants. The report concluded that it was the “industry's last opportunity for self-regulated reform.” It recommend that the industry does not deliver on its reforms by June 2011, then government intervention will be necessary.
Fair Pint, along with other members of the Independent Pub Confederation, give oral evidence to the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee. They presented evidence to show that despite the Committee’s devastating report on the industry published in May 2009, ‘pubcos’ and their representive body the BBPA had shown little willingness to introduce reforms to the sector.
Peter Luff, the Chairman of the Business Innovation and Skills Committee, announces a new evidence session to look at progress in the pub sector since the publication of the Business and Enterprise Select Committee’s report in May. The committee asks for oral evidence from the Independent Pub Confederation, the British Beer and Pub Association and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors publish the conclusions of their pub industry forum. The forum was established in response to criticisms of RICS in the Business and Enterprise Select Committee report on pub companies. The conclusions of the forum upheld one of Fair Pint’s key demands, that pub rents should be set in such a way, which means that tied tenants and lessees are financially no worse of than if they were free of tie.
Fair Pint, along with: the FSB, CAMRA, the Association of Licensed Multiple Operators, the Guild of Master Victuallers, Justice for Licensees, Unite the Union, form the Independent Pub Confederation as a umbrella group pressing for government intervention ensure free competition in the pub sector.
Members of Fair Pint travel to Brussels to meet officials in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition to press for changes to the EU Block Exemption Regulation on vertical restraints to remove the protection for the exemption from large pub companies which would mean that they would have to prove that their agreements do not restrict competition.
Fair Pint holds a pubs summit in the House of Commons to debate the future of the industry and the need for a rebalancing of the relationship between tied lessees and pub companies if the pub sector in the UK is going to have a long-term future.
The House of Common’s Business and Enterprise Select Committee, publishes a report on pub companies, which supports many of Fair Pint’s demands for freedom from the tie and a Competition Commission investigation into the market to protect the interests of lessees and consumers
Fair Pint hold a lobby day in the House of Commons, which is attended by hundreds of publicans and dozens of MPs. Fair Pint calls for parliamentarians to back the conclusions of the Business and Enterprise Select Committee’s report and to put pressure on ministers to refer pub companies to the Competition Commission.
Fair Pint welcomes supportive comments from the Chancellor Alistair Darling, Treasury Minister Angela Eagle and Licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe stating that that the tie is a reason for the problems faced by the pub sector and the tied tenancy business model needs to be reconsidered.
The respected Institute for Public Policy Research, publishes research on the threats to the future of community pubs. Their publication Pubs and Places: The social value of community Pubs makes it clear that over charging of tied lessees through the abuse of the tie and the manipulation of rental valuations is a major cause of pub closures.
Fair Pint members Bryan Jacobs, Simon Clarke and David Morgan give evidence to the Business and Enterprise Select Committee about the problems faced by tenants and how the abuse of the tie and the rent valuation system is leading to the failure of thousands of tied pub businesses.
Fair Pint gains high profile political backing when the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Dr Vince Cable backs the campaign saying:
"The system of tied pubs goes completely against the idea of competitive markets. It is especially damaging at a time like this when pubs are under pressure because of a slowdown in the economy combined with rising costs. I support the Fair Pint Campaign which is pushing for legislation for leased pubs to be released from their tie."
45 MPs from all the main parties support an Early Day Motion which expresses concern about the concentration of pub ownership by a few large property companies and expresses concern that recommendations made by the Trade & Industry Select Committee have been ignored by the industry.
Later in the month the Business and Enterprise Select Committee responds to the Fair Pint Campaign and announces an inquiry to review the tied pub sector.
Fair Pint is launched at the House of Commons and gains cross-party support for its campaign to highlight how large pub owning companies are using the tie to exploit pub tenants. Fair Pint asks for the Business and Enterprise Select Committee to open an inquiry into the relationship between pub companies and their lessees.