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Issue:- 4 August 2011

Fears pub companies are holding tenants over a barrel sparks call for stronger regulation of industry

LET us know if this the Forum of Private Business are correct when they say that pub companies are holding their small tenants to ransom. If you run a pub, let us know what you think about the groups calls for stronger regulation of the industry? The group in a press statment said that the not-for-profit Forum has written to Adrian Bailey MP, Chairman of the Government’s Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee, who are carrying out an inquiry into pub companies, to share the experiences of its pub tenant members, including those who have complained about the "heavy handed and unfair treatment" they experience at the hands of large firms.

In the press release sent on 3 August 2011, the Forum says it is now calling on the Government to strengthen pub industry regulation to ensure that:-

"1. Pub companies comply with codes of practice.
2. When it comes to pub rental, a tied tenant should be no worse off than a free of tie tenant.
3. An independent disputes mechanism is created in order to deal with complaints.
4. More pub leases free from product tie are made available."

They then go on and say that:- "While industry codes of practice have been introduced in recent years they are voluntary and have not removed the hold many pub companies have over their tenants, who often find themselves tied in to unfavourable contracts and subsequently struggle to control costs. In 2009 the BIS Committee found that 41% of pubs cited the price of ‘tied products’ as the single biggest drain on their cash flow – more than any other financial worry."

Forum’s Chief Executive Phil Orford also added that:- “The first BIS Committee inquiry took place in 2004 so pub companies have had seven full years to improve their treatment of tenants but little progress appears to have been made during this time. If we are to reduce pub closures the abuses of power by companies over individual tenants must be curbed by stronger statutory regulation, and these codes of practice must be enforced as it seems not all companies are complying. For example, evidence from our members suggests that grant concessions are not being given to struggling lease holders. In a deregulatory environment, this is one area in which better regulation could be used to support and protect small businesses.”

The Forum had said that one of the most common complaints is that pub companies give preferential treatment to new tenants by giving them discounts on alcohol and other products in order to help them get started. They also believe that similar discounts should also be available to existing leaseholders so that they can compete on price and so that more struggling pubs are able to stay in business. Plus they say that there can also be issues when one pub company takes over the lease of another.

In the press release they said that:- "Forum member David Kehoe-Pank runs the Old Vic pub in Southsea and has had particular problems since Enterprise Inns took over the management of his lease from Whitbread." and they say that:- "He believes that Enterprise Inns has repeatedly been unreasonable in the way it pursues debts, including withholding product deliveries in lieu of payment."

In the release they add a statment from Mr Kehoe-Pank that says:- “Every Monday Enterprise Inns’ accounts department telephones the pub to take our beer order for the week, we are then told how much we have to pay into their bank for rent and trade. If for some reason we cannot pay what is demanded we do not get a delivery. On 16 February 2010 - out of the blue - we were taken to court by Enterprise because we owed them £10,573.46 and they wanted repossession of the pub. I was given three months to pay off the debt, which I did. 3 weeks ago a bailiff employed by Enterprise came into the pub at 4pm wanting £12,000 we were in debt for. He would only accept cards or cash payment - at 4pm it was not easy to raise that kind of money, but luckily we did. We could not get into debt if we were getting deliveries. I think Enterprise Inns do not like tenants with a Whitbread lease which ties us in for beer only - they would prefer that we were tied for everything.”

The Forum the go on and say:- "In response a spokesman for Enterprise Inns told the Forum... 'Enterprise Inns makes every effort to support tenants in times of difficulty, including maintaining supplies when there are payment arrears, and payment plans for clearing debts. Debt collection procedures are only instituted when tenants, despite our best efforts, continue to refuse payment. Neither our support nor our debt collection procedures are linked to the type of agreement a tenant has with us.'”

Dementia centre plan unveiled for Sedgemoor

PLANS have been unveiled for a £1 million specialist dementia care unit in Liverpool.  The purpose-built facility, designed by 2020 Liverpool, will be constructed next to Sedgemoor Care Home in Norris Green and will be used by up to 30 people per day.  It will include a ‘Telecare’ suite where staff will be able to fully assess people and identify the most suitable types of technology which can be fitted at home to help them stay safe - such as sensors and warning alarms.

The centre will also be used for respite and include a sensory room, hobby space where people can take part in arts and crafts and a mini-cinema which will be used to show old film reels to help with cognitive therapy.  It is part of the council’s ‘Transformation’ plan for day care services which will see 6 Health and Wellbeing ‘hubs’ created across the city to provide help and support for people.

Councillor Roz Gladden, cabinet member for adult social care, said:- “This is going to be a superb facility which will offer state-of-the-art support and care for people with dementia and their families.  We have an ageing population in Liverpool and all of the evidence shows there is going to be an increased need for this type of facility to help assist those who have dementia.  This is a significant investment in a new kind of care facility which is completely changing the way in which we deliver services.   We are moving to a system where we are focused on meeting people’s individual needs, rather than having to choose from a fixed menu of social care services.”

Outside there will be a fully enclosed garden with allotments and raised beds where people who are interested in gardening will be able to practice their horticulture skills.  The centre is being specially designed so that each area flows in to another so there are no dead ends where people can feel trapped.  The ranges of colours and textures used in the building have been specifically chosen to stimulate the senses and memory.

There are more than 4,000 older people with dementia in Liverpool today and it is estimated the figure will grow to around 5,300 by 2025.  About 3 quarters of people live in the community and are supported by carers who are family or friends.  

A planning application for the facility has been submitted, and if approved work is scheduled to start on site in January next year and the centre will open in late summer 2012.

Work is also underway on improving Lime Court Day Centre in Kensington, where around £500,000 is being spent to make it a community hub open 12 hours per day, 7 days a week as part of the Transformation proposals


UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is today calling on the government to give its backing to all workers – in both the private and public sectors – to have access to a decent pension scheme.

A new report today revealed that almost three quarters of private sector staff will not be able to ‘adequately exist’ when they retire, as they have not saved enough money*. And the government’s plans to auto-enrole workers into the NEST scheme could still see up to 9 million ‘fall through the cracks’.

Only last week, UNSION warned that a shocking two-thirds of private sector employees – 15 million workers - are not in a workplace pension to which their employer contributes. This could mean they are forced to rely on benefit top ups paid for by the taxpayer when they retire.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:- “Every person who is shut out of saving for their retirement, or who does not save adequately, could cost the taxpayer £15,000 in benefits top ups. This will be a huge drain on public finances, running into hundreds of billions of pounds. There is also a danger that the government’s plans for public sector pensions will price the low paid out of saving for their retirement. This would make matters worse for the taxpayer later on down the line – who will be forced to pick up an even larger means tested benefits bill. The government must give its backing to every worker – in the public and private sector – to have access to a decent pension. All too often, bosses of private firms secure themselves generous pensions, with low retirement ages, but lock their staff out of schemes. It is the lack of decent private sector pensions that is the real pension timebomb in this country – not the cost of public sector schemes. Pension schemes across the public sector were overhauled only a few years ago, to ensure they are affordable and sustainable for the long term.”
       *  Report out from the Workplace Retirement Income Commission.

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