Unite and the British Pub Confederation have issued a joint call for large pub companies to cancel rents on closed pubs during the coronavirus crisis or ‘face the collapse of thousands of pubs and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs’.
The Unite and the British Pub Confederation, which represents pubs and publicans, also accused pub companies, known as pubcos, of demanding that tenant publicans hand over grants issued by the government to help support their pubs.
They said that pubcos are demanding the grants to ‘line their own pockets and those of their shareholders and prop up questionable corporate structures’.
About 20,000 out of Britain’s 40,000 pubs, which support nearly 500,000 jobs, are leased out to tenant landlords. Along, with other hospitality businesses, they will be one of the last sectors of the economy to emerge from the lockdown.
Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture Joe Clarke said: “Unite has many members within the pub industry who are on the breadline. They are not being supported by the pub companies, which are still asking for rent or allowing publicans to amass huge debt by deferring rent payments.
“Because of this, the limited government support available is unlikely to secure a long-term future for many publicans or their staff. This will also have a devastating impact on the beer production and delivery sector.
“Pubcos need to think long-term and cancel rent payments for self-employed publicans or face the collapse of thousands of pubs and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“There needs to be a structured government-led plan for the industry, and this must include the voice of tenant publicans and staff representatives, not just that of the large pubcos.”
Chair of the British Pub Confederation Greg Mulholland said: “The way self-employed pub tenants are being treated by large pubcos and breweries is scandalous. These corporations are charging rent on closed pubs with no income.
“Worse still, they are asking tenants to hand over their government grants. These funds are intended to enable the pub and publicans to survive, not for pubcos to line their own pockets and those of their shareholders and prop up questionable corporate structures.
“The message from The British Pub Confederation and Unite is clear: pubcos must cancel rents during the crisis and stop trying to get their hands on grants meant to ensure these pubs have a future. The government needs to step in with a plan to facilitate this and ensure the industry survives.”