I am really proud to be launching our latest Better form of Business reports for Community Shops and Community Pubs. I am also delighted that so many people could be here at the launch, welcome to the House of Lords.
There are too many findings from these comprehensive reports to present everything to you today, so I will share my own personal observations and highlights from the research.
Before I do, may I offer a brief introduction to Plunkett and origins of these reports for those of you who are just getting to know about our organisation and the community-owned business movement we are proud to represent.
Plunkett is a national charity which supports people, primarily in rural areas to come together to set up and run a wide range of businesses in community ownership. From shops and pubs, through to woodlands, farms, cafes, bakeries and bookshops. We do this to help communities to safeguard the essential services they need, value and depend on, and also because we know once they exist in community ownership, they go on to address a wider range of problems and benefit those most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society.
Today, Plunkett is the only organisation which is solely dedicated to supporting rural community owned businesses UK wide and we represent the largest membership of businesses which are genuinely owned and controlled by local communities. Having supported over 800 community businesses to open, this represents 10% of the UK co-operative sector.
The Better form of Business reports contain an annual review of the geographic growth, financial performance, characteristics and impact of these businesses. They are purely focused on community shops and pubs, as the two most dominant models of community ownership in rural areas at present.
The reports were initiated 11 years ago in an attempt to create an internal database of businesses we had supported, and has evolved to become very robust, credible and much valued research. The reports also still maintain a practical purpose as a resource for new community businesses starting out and existing ones looking to benchmark their activities and in support of their annual business planning.