Local pubs owned as community businesses are continuing to thrive, with 30% growth and a 100% survival rate in the sector, according to a report from the Plunkett Foundation, the representative body for almost 600 rural community businesses trading across the UK.
The ‘Better form of Business’ report was funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England. It shows that at the end of 2017, no community pubs had ceased trading, maintaining a 100% survival rate – and that the sector had grown by 30%, with 14 new pubs opening during the year.
The report also illustrates a number of examples of the added value of community pubs, including initiatives to address social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing.
According to the report, 74% of all start-up costs during 2017 were sourced from community shares. The majority of the 14 community pubs to open that year also used grant capital available under the More Than a Pub programme, which provides funding towards start-up costs, as well as dedicated loans and grants. The programme will close in March 2019 and a new £2.2 million programme, backed by the Plunkett Foundation and Power to Change, will be active from summer 2019.
Chris Cowcher, head of community business at the Plunkett Foundation, said: “We are delighted to see trading figures that continue to demonstrate how community businesses are at the forefront of strengthening the rural economy. As well as saving vital rural services they bring people together of all ages, backgrounds, interests, and give them a purpose to interact. Put simply, community pubs reduce social isolation and loneliness.”
Ailbhe McNabola, head of research and policy at Power to Change, said: “We believe in better places through community business, so every piece of research to help us understand the sector is vital. It is fantastic news that the community pubs sector has grown so well, and we were pleased to launch a new £2.2m funding programme for community pubs.”