STRUGGLING publicans are earning less than the minimum wage because some breweries are taking more than 90 per cent of their profits, it has been revealed.
At one pub, the Old Parrs Head in Blythe Road, Brook Green, landlords Joe and Betty Hynes have lost their life savings after being squeezed to their limits by Punch Taverns, to which the pair are tied.
Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter highlighted their plight in parliament last week, in a debate about introducing statutory regulation to stop pub companies putting tenants out of business, a suggestion which was backed by other MPs.
The ruling came as a relief to Mr and Mrs Hynes, who have run their popular tavern for 23 years.
Initially, they were so successful they acquired another pub, The Chancery in Lillie Road, Fulham. But Punch continued to raise rent and barrel prices, and by the time they were forced to close their second premises, the firm was taking 124 per cent of their profits.
The situation at the Old Parrs Head is not much better, with Punch forecast to swallow 91 per cent of their profits this year – more than double that of six years ago.
Mr Slaughter said: “This means that Joe and Betty will effectively be living on less than the minimum wage. They have lost their life savings in one venture, because they have been forced out.
“They are now living on minimum income, yet have provided those two fantastic establishments for my constituents over a long period of time.
“I hope there will be a quick implementation of an effective statutory code so this David and Goliath battle can be evened up and people like Joe and Betty can get the proper reward for a lifetime of work and service to their community.”
Business secretary Vince Cable will now introduce tighter rules to encourage fairer trading practices between leaseholders and the big pub firms, including Punch.
Mr Hynes said: “It can be tough being the little guy. We’re delighted the government is committed to statutory regulation and to the principle that the tied tenant will not be any worse off than the free-of-tie tenant.
“We love our pub and the people who come in it.”
A spokesman for Punch said: “We are disappointed that self-regulation was not given time to work but we will now work with others in the sector to help ensure statutory regulation is as effective as possible.”