Local pubs owned as community businesses are continuing to thrive where private enterprise has failed, according to a report launched by the Plunkett Foundation. Community pubs are stronger than ever, with interest continuing to build within the thriving sector.

A comprehensive report on community pubs has been published by Plunkett Foundation, the national experts in setting up and running rural community businesses since 1919. The ‘Better form of Business’ reports were funded by Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England.

The report shows that at the end of 2017:

  • The community pub sector has grown by 30% with 14 new pubs opening during the year
  • No community pubs ceased trading, maintaining an impressive 100% survival rate
  • 85 known community pubs were trading across the UK at the end of 2017
    153 groups were actively exploring setting up a community pub
  • 74% of all start-up costs during 2017 were sourced from community shares

The report also illustrates a number of examples of the added value of community pubs, including initiatives to address social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing.

Since March 2016, the community pubs sector has been supported by the More Than a Pub programme with funding available towards start-up costs as well as a dedicated loan and grant programme. The majority of the 14 community pubs to open in 2017 took advantage of significant grant capital available under the programme. As the support available under the programme is due to close in March 2019, Plunkett Foundation is proud to be working with Power to Change on a new £2.2 million funding programme to help communities seeking to save their local pub through community ownership. The new programme will be active from Summer 2019 with further details to be announced in the Spring. This announcement, made in December 2018, indicates both the commitment and support from both Power to Change and Plunkett Foundation to create a thriving community pubs sector.

Chris Cowcher, Head of Community Business at Plunkett Foundation, said: “This year we are delighted to see trading figures that continue to demonstrate how community businesses are at the forefront of strengthening the rural economy. As well as saving vital rural services such as shops and pubs, the stand out success of community businesses is found in the social impact they achieve. They bring people together of all ages, backgrounds, interests, and give them a purpose to interact; put simply, community shops and community pubs reduce social isolation and loneliness.”

James Alcock added: “We are pleased to be working once again with Power to Change on the development of a new £2.2 million programme supporting the thriving community pubs sector. I would like to thank the many people involved in community pubs for contributing to the reports and highlighting the challenges as well as the successes of running a community business by telling their own stories. We also thank our funders and partners who have helped us to sustain our services over the last 100 years as we continue to support community businesses through challenging times.”

Ailbhe McNabola, Head of Research and Policy at Power to Change said: “We believe in better places through community business so every piece of research to help us understand the sector is vital. It is fantastic news that the community pubs sector has grown so well, and we were pleased to launch a new £2.2m funding programme for community pubs with more details coming this Spring. We have a number of support programmes and funds in place to support a wide range of community businesses and we hope to see the sector grow even more strongly in 2019.”

Plunkett Foundation represents a network of nearly 600 rural community businesses trading across the UK. It supports these organisations to thrive and help communities explore the idea of a community business. It aims to grow the sector by raising awareness of the community business model to more communities and reach geographic areas and individuals most in need.

To download a copy of both the community shops and community pubs ‘Better Form of Business’ report, visit: