THE LABOUR party will this week demand action to save Britain’s pubs from closure after scheduling a House of Commons debate on the issue.
Shadow pubs minister Toby Perkins will use Wednesday’s opposition day debate to call for action against large landlords, known as “pubcos”, that are accused of abusing their control over thousands of venues.
Critics claim the pubcos take advantage of tenants, forcing them to pay excessive rents and making them buy drinks and supplies from the pubco at prices that go well beyond the market rate.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna accused Prime Minister David Cameron of not doing enough to protect “some of the most important small businesses in the country,” despite pledging his support for pubs while in opposition.
“We need a statutory code to stop exploitation of pub tenants by the large pub companies but this out of touch government refuses to implement one,” Umunna said yesterday. “Pubs are vital independent local businesses serving our communities – they deserve our help and support.”
Figures from the Campaign for Real Ale suggest as many as 18 pubs are closing every week, although the organisation places some of the blame on the beer duty escalator introduced in 2008 by the last Labour government. This causes duty to automatically rise by two per cent above inflation every year.