More than a Pub

More than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme

Want to take ownership of your local pub and run it for the benefit of the community? Need help getting it into community hands?

The More than a Pub programme provides business development support to enable the community ownership of pubs in both rural and urban communities across England.

Funded by Power to Change and delivered by Plunkett Foundation, the second round of the programme builds upon the success of the first, which saw over 450 enquiries received from communities across England and saw 28 pubs open under community ownership. Support and funding is available to the community pub sector until September 2020.

This programme will be delivered in partnership with the following organisations:

What does the programme offer?

The programme offers a wide range of support for groups who wish to take ownership of their local pub and run it for the benefit of their local community:

Two and a half days’ initial action planning support with an approved adviser outlining the keys steps involved in consulting with your community and setting up a community pub business.

The opportunity to learn from existing community pub businesses and sector specialists through visits, events and webinars. You can find a list of our current events in the section below.

Pre-feasibility funding of up to £2,500 (inclusive of VAT) payable to groups retrospectively. This funding can be used to fund development costs at the pre-feasibility stage of your project and could include: consultation with your community, incorporation fees, valuation and survey fees, professional services, printing and marketing. Bursaries can also be used to purchase Plunkett Community Pubs Network membership.

An initial allocation of up to three days’ business development support. When you have established community support for your idea and that you want to proceed, we will match you with one of our experienced specialist advisers who will work with you to deliver a tailored package of support. The advice available at this stage includes:

  • Incorporation, legal structure and governance
  • Business planning
  • Raising finance and community shares
  • Financial modelling
  • Determining and measuring your chosen ‘More than a Pub’ community benefit activities
  • Getting ready to trade
  • Preparing your group’s application to the Loan and Grant Panel

We can provide top-up business development advice of a further day where we identify additional need, but this cannot be guaranteed.

Combined loan and grant funding up to £100,000 is available via the programme and we work closely with social loan providers Co-operative & Community Finance (CCF) and Key Fund who administer the loan finance. Funding awards will not exceed £100,000 and the maximum grant contribution is £50,000. Loan and grant funding are always made up of equal amounts. You cannot have grant funding without an equal amount of loan funding.

The loan and grant funding is to pay for capital costs only, such as the purchase of land, buildings, construction, and equipment. The loan and grant funding will not pay for revenue costs which are those associated with paying people for their services, except access consultants. Gaining approval for the loan funding element is a prerequisite for the loan and grant package, and grant funding will only be released once the loan has been approved with a loan provider.

The amounts and ratios available are discretionary and will be assessed against the group’s ability to service a loan, meet the eligibility criteria and clearly demonstrate their wider social and economic impact.

Groups are also expected to raise a proportion of community finance, which will be taken into account when determining the funding mix. We encourage groups to attain the community share offer Standard Mark and can provide support to do this.

Applying for support

In order to qualify for support through the More than a Pub programme, you must be based in England and:

  1. Want to take ownership of a pub
  2. Want to open and run a community pub
  3. Be incorporated or intend to incorporate
  4. Have a charitable purpose
  5. Be for the benefit of the public
  6. Address local needs
  7. Trade for the benefit of the community
  8. Run democratically
  9. Have local support and investors

Further information can be found in our applicant guidance document that we highly recommend you read when you are thinking of applying for support under the More than a Pub programme:

If you meet the programme criteria, please complete our enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Alternatively, you can call the programme advice line on 01993 810730 for further information.


As part of the More than a Pub programme, we offer the opportunity to learn from existing community pub businesses and sector specialists through visits, events and webinars. Our current programme of events can be seen below:

Join us at this inspiring, free event at The Green Dragon, Exelby where you’ll hear more about the support available to new community pub businesses and groups exploring community ownership of their local pub.

Since forming a community group at the end of 2016, the community in Exelby have really rallied together and not only have they re-opened their pub in October 2018, they have since gone on to open their Deli Cafe in April this year which offers another space for the community to get-together. Their activities don’t end there however, they are also running a community-led affordable housing scheme, are working on renovating the upstairs rooms of the pub which will be run as a bed and breakfast as well as setting up glamping pods which they hope to open shortly.

After hearing their story and undertaking a tour of the pub we are sure you’ll leave Exelby full of ideas and motivation that you can apply to your own project.

One of Plunkett’s expert advisers will give you a warm welcome you to the event and will talk you through the support and resources available to your community and to answer any questions that you have.

If you are interested in attending this event, please visit the booking link here.

Join us at this inspiring, free event at The Bevy, Brighton where you’ll hear more about the support available to new community pub businesses and groups exploring community ownership of their local pub.

Opened in December 2014, The Bevy was the first community owned and run estate pub in the UK and is a fantastic example of a pub which is much more than a pub with activities taking place offering a wealth of opportunities to bring the community together and providing a welcoming space for everyone living locally.

With community lunches every day, children’s cookery courses, weekly digital drop-in sessions, dementia-friendly creative sessions, a weekly running group followed by a time to chat at the pub afterwards, arts and crafts sessions, a ‘bridge the gap’ lunch for over 50’s, there really is something for everyone.

On this study visit you’ll have an opportunity to take a tour of the pub and hear first-hand about the incredible work that is undertaken there to bring everyone in the community together and find inspiration about activities that you can plan for your own community pub to help it become a real hub for local people.

One of Plunkett’s friendly, expert advisers will give you a warm welcome you to the event and will talk you through the support and resources available to your community and to answer any questions that you have.

If you are interested in attending this event, please visit the booking link here.

If you have any questions regarding the events listed above, please contact Hannah Barrett on 01993 810730. Also, if you are unable to join at an event, please do give us a call on 01993 810 730. Our friendly team are happy to talk through your idea and would love to hear from you, whatever stage you’re at. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can email us at

Why community pubs?

Community pubs are owned by members (sometimes known as shareholders) and are run democratically on the basis of one-member-one-vote. Membership is voluntary, affordable, and open to all in a community, and is the mechanism for ensuring the community has a genuine say in how the business is run. This is what gives community pubs longevity, as member control and input ensures the pub business is continually adapting and serving the needs of its members and wider community.

Community pubs are thriving where private enterprise has failed; almost a quarter of privately-owned pubs have shut down since 2008 (Office of National Statistics, 2018), but community pubs have a 100% success rate (Community Pubs Better Business Report, 2018). Community pubs also play a vital role in reducing loneliness and social isolation, providing a range of community focused activities and services, as well as being a community space for all.

Case studies

Below, you can find a selection of case studies from community pubs supported under the first round of the More than a Pub programme:

The Craufurd Arms, Maidenhead

View the case study here

The Duke of Marlborough, Somersham

View the case study here

The Gardeners Rest, Sheffield

View the case study here

The Harrow, Kent

View the case study here

The New Inn, Norton Lindsey

View the case study here

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of common questions we receive. Please do contact us if you have any further queries not answered below:

  • In order to receive adviser support or funding you need to be able to evidence the pub is for sale or that the current owner is prepared to negotiate with your group.
  • The programme can support your group even if the pub is closed, but you do need to be seeking to acquire an existing pub building.
  • To qualify for support you must have a working group of at least three people.
  • You do not need to have a legal form to apply, the programme can provide guidance on legal structures. You can apply for support and the bursary as an unincorporated association, but you will need to be incorporated by the time you apply for a loan and grant package.
  • Bursaries are up to £2,500 and are to cover expenditure such as: consultation expenses, hall hire, marketing materials, as well as feasibility studies, valuations, legal structure formation and membership fees.
  • Your group can apply for a bursary without having a bank account in place but we cannot make payments until your group has an account in its name set up. We cannot make payments into a third party account.
  • Typically the term of the loan would be between 1 & 7 years payable, as far as possible, in equal monthly instalments. A repayment schedule will be provided by the loan provider.
  • In exceptional circumstances loan providers may consider finance over a longer term or through a blended arrangement with other loan providers. Each case will be considered on its merits and terms may vary from the standard. Please speak to the loan provider for further details.
  • If the enterprise repays any part of the loan earlier than schedule they will be liable to pay a penalty fee.
  • A capital repayment holiday of up to 12 months (maximum) may be granted at the start. Interest payments will still be collected each month during this period. All requests are subject to negotiation and the business case put forward will be considered on its merits. A repayment schedule will be supplied by the loan provider.

Loans are offered at a fixed rate of interest of 8%.

Loans will be largely unsecured although for larger sums security may be sought in the form of a legal charge over the property asset. Personal guarantees and other forms of personal security will not be considered.

Loan interest is charged from the day the loan is drawn down and repayments will commence on a set day of the month following draw down of the finance. A repayment schedule will be supplied by the loan provider showing a breakdown of interest and capital repayments.

There is no set loan to value ratio. We would however want to see a reasonable proportion of community investment in the initiative.

Need some help?

If you are interested in receiving support from the More Than a Pub programme, please do contact us and we will get back in touch very shortly.

Contact us