£3.62m programme for community-owned pubs

A major new support and finance programme to help people take control of their local pub for the benefit of the community has been announced by Community Pubs Minister Marcus Jones MP.

More than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme is a £3.62 million, two-year programme that will see a comprehensive package of business development support, advice and loan and grant funding being delivered to community groups in England to help them establish community-owned pubs that can clearly demonstrate how they will bring significant social, economic and environmental benefits to their communities. Jointly funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Power to Change, the programme will be led by Plunkett Foundation and delivered in collaboration with leading organisations within the sector including Co-operative & Community Finance.

The programme aims to support 80 community-owned pubs to open over two years and will offer a flexible package of support including access to an advice line, events, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits, and business development advice. It will also offer flexible bursary awards to fund very early stage activity, such as community consultation work, and a grant and loan package.
Forty communities have already successfully taken ownership of their local pub under community ownership, and a further 1,250 have been listed as ‘assets of community value’ under community rights, highlighting the important role that pubs play in local communities.

Co-operative & Community Finance has helped several communities save their local pubs by providing long and short-term loan finance and by underwriting share issues (via the Community Shares Fund).

One example is The Fox and Hounds in Denmead on the outskirts of Portsmouth which reopened under community ownership In December 2014, after it had been derelict for over two years. The local community raised nearly £500,000 to buy and refurbish the 150 year building. The community share issue attracted £326,000 from 190 investors and the remainder came from loans from Co-operative & Community Finance and The Co-operative Loan Fund and a grant from Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.

Business Development Manager Tim Coomer said: “We are delighted by the launch of this long-awaited support programme. It should make a big difference to many local communities. We have worked with Plunkett on a similar programme to support community-owned shops and so we are confident that this one for pubs will be popular and successful.”
Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, said: “This programme will significantly increase the number of community-owned pubs open and trading, bringing far-reaching benefits to local people. For many communities, pubs are not just a place to drink; they are central to peoples’ sense of place and identity, they provide an important place for people to meet and help to build community cohesion.”

To find out more about the programme please call the programme advice line on 01993 810730 or visit www.plunkett.co.uk.