Growing the Community Business Network UK-wide:

Understanding the ‘cold spot’ areas where Plunkett Foundation could support more community businesses.

Large parts of rural Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North East of England have been identified as ‘cold spots’ for community-ownership projects supported by the Plunkett Foundation. New research conducted by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) examines the distribution of community businesses to aid Plunkett’s understanding and as part of the development of a new organisational 5 year strategy, due to be launched later this year.

The research is the first phase of an ongoing project, which aims to further investigate the identified areas with a lower presence of Plunkett supported community businesses and consider the opportunities for sector growth in future.

To obtain a full copy of the research conducted by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) please email Georgina Edwards, Policy & Research Manager

As part of this project, SRUC used data held by the Plunkett Foundation to undertake a detailed mapping exercise, comparing the distribution of community businesses to socio-economic factors such as population density and deprivation. They also mapped the presence of similar forms of businesses, such as co-operatives and social enterprises. Finally, they completed in-depth interviews with other sector bodies and academics. As Plunkett predominantly supports rural community businesses, the research focused on rural areas.

The review of other forms of social-action focused initiatives, organisations or businesses, in particular locations provided a comparison when considering the relevance of a community-owned business in a perceived ‘cold spot’. Some communities may lack a community business project because there are other local community-based institutions in place that meet local needs. Furthermore the interviews with other sector bodies enabled the research to consider where there was less need for Plunkett services and where there could be added value to the support services being provided by others. Both of these considerations will be critical in terms of shaping Plunkett’s future strategy.

In the executive summary, published today, Plunkett Foundation has set out a number of commitments to progress our work in ‘cold spot’ areas in future. We want to build on the operational collaborations and partnerships that currently exist and to create new ones, where there is a clear benefit to communities aspiring to develop a community-owned business.

Our central ambition is to grow the Community Business Network UK-wide. This research offers an opportunity to make sure that whatever advice and support is available, both to nurture new projects and sustain the current network, it reaches those areas that need the most help.

If you would be interested in discussing this work further, contributing to future phases of the project, or would like to receive a full copy of the research please get in touch with our Research and Policy team via