Parliamentary Save the Pub Group ridicules flawed report by tobacco lobbyist defending the pubco tie

Save The PubThe Parliamentary Save the Pub Group has ridiculed the report by the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Christopher Snowdon who is now defending the pubco tie and absurdly claiming that this disastrous business model has not had an effect on pub closures, despite clear evidence it has – evidence that Mr Snowdon has ignored. 

The IEA report “Closing time – who’s killing the British pub?” reverts back to the pub companies’ selective previous reporting of the CGA figs – the myths already explained and debunked by the ‘Pub Closures: – the truth about the misleading BBPA claims about pub closures’ by the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group in November 2013.

 In this new piece of work. Mr Snowdon has ignored the reality of pub closure figures supplied by CGA and is re-presenting some of the myths around pub closures previously peddled by pubco lobbyists, the so called British Beer and Pub Association. Once again, Mr Snowdon’s report contains the myth about tied versus free of tie pub closures, when CGA Strategy themselves have confirmed that they do not collect figures for tied versus free of tie pubs!

 The whole section on the pubco issue is also riddled with factual flaws, questionable statements presented as fact without any evidence and a series of misassumptions showing a remarkable lack of knowledge of the reality of this business model and how it works in practice. .

 The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is a free market think tank based in London.  Founded in 1955, its stated mission is “to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.”

This is not the first time Mr Snowdon’s work has been ridiculed. In August 2014, following an IEA report on obesity written by Christopher Snowdon, entitled The Fat Lie; in a Channel 4 News piece The report was dismissed as “laughable nonsense which flies in the face of 50 years of science,” by nutrition expert, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, as well “completely wrong” by Professor Mike Lean, Chair of Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow.

More disturbingly, in an interview with Channel 4 News about ‘The Fat Lie’, Snowdon was pressed about the IEA’s funding and whether the think-tank received food industry money, however Snowdon said he did not know, and it was also “irrelevant” whether the IEA was taking food industry money or not.

What is known, however, is that the IEA receive substantial funding from the tobacco industry – which explains why Mr Snowdon is so keen to say that pub closures are all down to the smoking ban not the disastrous pubco model, when the evidence clearly shows otherwise.

 The reality of pub closures figures, as previously published by the Save the Pub Group is as follows: –

 ·         CGA Strategy figures show that there has been a much greater drop in the number of leased/tenanted pubs compared to freehouses between December 2005 and March 2013 – the number of ‘non-managed’ (tenanted/leased, mostly tied) pubs fell by 5,117 compared with a fall of only 2,131 in the number of ‘free trade’ pubs. (CGA Net Closure figures December 2005 – March 2013 – Source: CGA, sent the Save the Pub Group 2013 November 2013)

·         The pubco’s trade association, the British Beer and Pub Association’s own figures show that over ten years non-managed pubs decreased by over 8,000 whilst the free trade sector actually expanded by 1,600.  (Source: BBPA Statistical Handbook 2013)

·         Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns collectively disposed of over 5,000 pubs between 2008 and 2012, a THIRD of all of their pubs in just 4 years. No other model had anything like this disposal rate. (Figures taken from Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns annual reports available online, 2008 Ent Inns 7763 and Punch 7560 by 2012 Ent Inns 5720 and Punch 4529)

 Greg Mulholland MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group said:

 “The pseudo-economist and tobacco lobbyist Mr Snowdon is ludicrously trying to rehash old figures that have already been debunked to try to fit the reality into a twisted and extreme view of the world and it seems help his friends in the tobacco industry.  His report is riddled with flaws and false assumptions and is something that no-one can possinly take seriously.

 “Of course the All Party Parliamentary Save Group know that there have been challenges and has campaigned for lower beer duty, VAT and are also calling for lower business rates for genuine community pubs (which the IEA report seems to oppose).

 The Save the Pub Group are all for sensible changes to reduce regulatory burdens on business and have fairer taxation for pubs, but it is extraordinary that this someone who claims to believe in market economics is defending the very instrument responsible for restricting licensees with the hugely burdensome terms of the pubco tie. For Mr Snowdon to defend this anti-competitive model and the closed shop it has created, is just bizarre. 

“This is another desperate last gasp in the death throes of one of the most anti-competitive and anti-free market business models in modern UK history and if this is the best the anti-reform brigade can do with this flawed unsubstantiated nonsense, then the many credible organisations backing reform have little to worry about. According to the few people who still misunderstand or misrepresent the pubco tie, one minute it is the fault of Muslims, the next minute you have an organisation claiming to be pro free market backing the most restrictive and anti-competitive business model in the land. What’s next, pubcos blaming pub closures on the alignment of the stars?! Much needed reform is happening and it will lead not only to a fairer split of pub between the small and big businesses but will lead to a much more diverse and sustainable pub sector, something that real economists and real free marketers will welcome”.      

 For more information, contact Mo Saqib (Parliamentary Researcher to Greg Mulholland MP) on or 0207 219 3833

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2 comments on “Parliamentary Save the Pub Group ridicules flawed report by tobacco lobbyist defending the pubco tie
  1. Jonathan Bagley says:

    Don’t you think the trend in pub closures in Ireland, during an economic boom, following the smoking ban there (March 2004), is relevant?

    Snowdon is not a tobacco lobbyist. That suggests he receives a signicant income, either directly or indirectly, from the Tobacco Industry. He has never argued that smoking isn’t a risky habit. I think he may have even switched to vaping. Read this article for example.

    Would a tobacco company pay someone to write

    “Ireland’s crusade against the tobacco giants has seen them lose focus on what really matters – effective harm reduction and lowering smoking rates”?

    How would lower smoking rates benefit the Tobacco Industry?

  2. Fredrik Eich says:

    ” Mr Snowdon is so keen to say that pub closures are all down to the smoking ban not the disastrous pubco model”

    He said nothing of the sort. He did not conclude that “pub closures are all down to the smoking ban”.

    This is what he said:

    “This study concludes that taxation, regulation and falling real wages have been the leading causes of the decimation of the UK pub industry since 2006, responsible for around 6,000 pub closures. The smoking ban and the alcohol duty escalator are particularly culpable. ”

    Why not add a clear hyper-link to the report so that people can judge for themselves rather than a link to a wiki on London, a capital city that most people are already familiar with?

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