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The Issue

Around half of pubs in the UK are run by tenants under the “beer tie” model. It requires them to buy beer and pay rent to a pub company that owns the lease. This has financially crippled some publicans. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimates that tied tenants are around £13,000 a year worse off than independent publicans.  We believe the future of our pubs and many small businesses depend on the reforming of this outdated scheme.

Action FSB have taken

  • We’ve led a tireless campaign to highlight the unfairness of the ‘beer tie’ that has been around for 400 years.
  • Together with CAMRA and A Fair Deal for Your Local, we’ve lobbied MPs across the UK to vote in favour of amending the Small Business Bill, to allow publicans to buy beer on the open market.
  • 75 per cent of our publican members said they would invest in more staff or increase staff hours if they were free of the tie. 78 per cent would invest in pub maintenance.

Our Goal

We believe in a fairer deal for tied publicans where they can make a fair profit. The impact of having to buy beer at an inflated price from their pub company and pay rent at a non-market rate has had severe financial implications for licensee members. Having a “free of tie” option should allow a more open and competitive market place. We continue to campaign to ensure the implementation of the legislation.

Achievements in...



  • As a result of our lobbying, the Government has closely monitored the pub industry since 2004.
  • We lobbied for the reform of the pub tie to allow licensee members and small businesses to buy their beer on the open market.
  • In November 2014 a historic vote in the House of Commons saw MPs vote 284 to 259, in favour of allowing tenants to buy their beer on the open market and have their rent independently assessed.
  • This was the first defeat by the Government on one of its own Bills.
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  • We worked with publicans to push for Scottish Government action on the tied-pub sector.

  • In 2015 the government announced it was commissioning a study into pubcos.

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