Community businesses are enterprises that are owned and run democratically by members of the community and others, on behalf of the community. They come in many forms, including shops, pubs, woodlands and anything which lends itself to community ownership. In addition to developing and safeguarding valuable assets and services, community businesses address a range of issues including isolation, loneliness, wellbeing, work and training. As well as bringing people together and attracting people to a local area, for every £1 spent in a business, a further 56 pence is spent locally as the money dissipates.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of local services has never been more apparent. However, the reality is that an increasing number of services are at risk of closure due to market forces, lack of funding, or due to the effects of the pandemic. This means that many residents, many of whom are dependent or vulnerable, are losing access to essential amenities. In these areas where there is a concern of services being lost, the community business approach is often a viable and sustainable solution.
This guide intends to provide the practical “how-to” knowledge behind a community business and inspire a new generation of businesses to open. Also, there is support available from all three partners including Plunkett Foundation, Power to Change and the National Association of Local Councils to ensure that councillors can access further expertise and resource to realise the ambition of setting up a community business in their area.
Chris Cowcher, Head of Community Business at Plunkett, said:
“We are delighted to be supporting this project because local councils have the power to encourage, facilitate and support more community businesses to open. The guide launched in a year when community businesses have stepped up more than ever to serve their residents across the UK in the most challenging of times. These enterprising businesses, time and again show themselves to be inspirational and inclusive operations, and it is exciting to think that this guide will lead to even more setting up.
It is often vital that local councils are engaged, contribute to and collaborate with community business projects and through working with NALC and Power to Change we hope that we can create an environment where these businesses can flourish.”
NALC Chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter, said:
Ailbhe McNabola, at Power to Change, said: