Landlords and MPs have warned some Fylde coast communities risk losing their local pubs because of greed by big breweries.
A new report by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) claims 84 per cent of so-called tied licensees, who are contractually obliged to buy from certain suppliers, are earning less than £15,000 a year.
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard says this way of living for struggling landlords “shouldn’t be accepted”.
He said: “I do recognise that many community pubs are under great pressure and we can see it on our own streets with many up for sale.
“I hope Government intervention in such matters will be helpful to many pubs.
“It shouldn’t be accepted because we all suffer if our local pubs die out.”
Paul Riggs runs the Queens Hotel, on Central Beach, in Lytham. He is currently two years into a 10 year lease and says he finds it “frustrating” that he can’t offer his customers more choice at the bar.
He said: “It’s restrictive in the sense a lot of pubs pay are paying over the odds for beer that they could get direct from a supplier at a cheaper price.
“It doesn’t affect us as much as we’re more food-orientated, but I expect a lot of the smaller drinking pubs find it very difficult, and many are struggling to survive.”
The Government is currently considering introducing a new industry code for the pub trade to give landlords more freedom over who they buy beer from.
Russ Cobb, from the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre branch of CAMRA, said: “This is something that’s been ongoing for a long time. The whole idea of licensees being tied down is something we’ve long campaigned against because it means landlords can’t shop around for the best prices.”
However, Enterprise Inns CEO Ted Tuppen wrote to all MPs to warn them they are being misled by “flawed, perhaps misrepresented information” from CAMRA.
He said the findings of CAMRA’s survey of 600 licensees “are not borne out by the commercial negotiations and discussions Enterprise conducts with publicans every day”, trade paper the Morning Advertiser reported.
Mr Tuppen wrote: “We strongly contest the damaging allegations made by CAMRA and urge it to clarify the findings of its research. Our data shows the average profit potential for a publican in an Enterprise pub is £34,000 per year before taking account of the benefit of free living accommodation.”