Plunkett’s Chief Executive, James Alcock, responds to the cost of living and energy price crises facing community-owned businesses.

We are seeing so much in the media about individual households being affected by the energy price crisis, and calls on government to help, but we know from first-hand, that businesses are affected too and community businesses are no exception.

From the conversations we are having with our members, we are hearing of energy bills rising by 150% – or more in some cases.

We understand it is not possible to simply pass on this cost to customers – they are already facing challenges relating to the general rise in cost of living, and it is a foundation of community businesses to ensure they are accessible and supporting those most at risk within their local communities.

Dipping into reserves to cover this cost is not an option for the majority – many community businesses, especially those newly trading, will have little or no reserve at all, and many will have exhausted their reserves to cover unanticipated costs during the pandemic.

The timing of this crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time. It is not just a period of increased costs and diminished reserves – we are hearing how staff and volunteers are fatigued following their extraordinary efforts during the pandemic, there are general shortages of staff and volunteers, and supply chain issues are ongoing as is the increasing costs of all goods and services.

With no certainty of how long these price rises will remain or even worsen, the viability of many community businesses will be questioned, and we are already hearing from community businesses which are planning to close for good or temporarily.

Support is available

Whilst there is no quick fix, Plunkett is here to help, and we must act now.

We are actively talking to our membership suppliers, including energy brokers and suppliers to see what, if any deals could be offered at this time.

Our Community Business Team are also encouraging community businesses to complete energy audits for their buildings, looking at measures that can be taken to reduce energy consumption right now.

We are pivoting our business support to new and existing community businesses throughout the UK to focus on the short-term. Our advisers are working with groups to review cashflow forecasts, revise business plans and looking at all and any efficiencies that can be made in a business’s operation. In some cases, we are supporting community businesses to fundraise, crowdfund, and re-launch community share offers in order to support their very existence. And we are working with providers of grant finance and loans to ensure no business is left behind.

Lobbying on your behalf

We know that our offer of support alone will not solve the energy crisis and its impact on community businesses.

This is why we are working with partners from across the charity, co-operative and social enterprise sectors to coordinate our policy activity and ensure the needs of our community business members are heard within government. We will certainly be joining others to call for an energy price cap, business rate relief and other measures that can help reduce community business expenditure at this challenging time.

We would welcome further input from members as to what further support is needed and any examples of the challenges you are facing. If you can support us in this way, please get in touch  via

In this together!

No community-owned business or project should feel alone at this time we are here to help, in whatever way we can. The whole Plunkett team want you to feel supported at this time so if you want to access our advice services, please get in touch via

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