The Future Needs of the Community Pub Sector

In response to a dramatic rise in the numbers of communities seeking to safeguard their valued pubs, and to identify the future growth requirements of the community-owned pub sector, the Plunkett Foundation, hosted a roundtable discussion in June for key sector stakeholders and partners. Chaired by Greg Mulholland, Campaign Director of Campaign for Pubs and Chair of the British Pub Confederation alongside Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change and James Alcock, Chief Executive of Plunkett, the meeting focused on the current and future demands for community-owned pubs across the UK. There was clear desire to maximise the impact of the collective contributions of those at the meeting to support the long-term sustainability of the sector.

The meeting focused on the need to raise awareness of the remarkable contribution of community-owned pubs to the well-being and economy of rural villages and towns and their growing impact of delivering community cohesion and social interaction in urban areas. At the same time recognise the barriers and challenges faced by some communities looking to save their local pub.

The timing of the meeting was significant as the Plunkett Foundation managed More than a Pub programme, which has supported the development of community-owned pubs in England for the past 5 years closed in March 2021. Funded by Power to Change and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government this dedicated programme of support enabled 60 communities to bring their ‘local’ into community ownership – accounting for just under 50% of all community-owned pubs in the UK. The programme also supported more than 300 groups with expert support, advice, training and funding from the programme and the ambition of the roundtable was to build on the success of this work and plan for the future. A full evaluation of the MTAP programme was launched by Power to Change on 22 July 2021, and can be accessed via this link.

Plunkett Foundation will retain the brand “more than a pub” and use it in association with our ongoing community pubs advisory service, which operates across all 4 UK nations. With the Community Ownership Fund now ‘live’ and accepting applications for funding as part of the first bidding round, groups will able to access the resources developed as part of the MTAP programme and also the expertise of Plunkett advisers as they consider making a potential application to the fund.

Looking ahead, the following measures were proposed to ensure a healthy and robust community pub sector:
  • significant investment is required to respond to the demand of communities setting-up and running community owned pubs
  • the Community Ownership Fund has great potential to support community pubs UK-wide, but it is important to ensure that the funding is invested with groups that, through establishing substantial business support and guidance, are robust and sustainable in the long term and deliver considerable social value in their community
  • working together will be key to raising awareness of the benefits of community ownership and securing the much needed future resources for the long-term benefit of communities.
  • greater collaboration of existing support providers is essential to ensure that business support is truly effective and maximises the benefits to community groups
  • a greater emphasis should be placed on reaching out to urban and deprived communities and understanding the barriers to community-ownership of groups in these places

Full details of the roundtable discussion can be downloaded here The Future Needs of the Community Pubs Sector and there is a commitment from Plunkett to reconvene the stakeholders and partners, at a further meeting in the Autumn.

Plunkett Foundation promotes itself as the only organisation offering a dedicated community-ownership support service for pubs, UK-wide however the importance of working in partnership with others is of paramount importance to future of the sector. Making sure that communities are accessing the best and most relevant advice and support available to help them realise their community ownership ambitions and run sustainable businesses thereafter. To that end, Plunkett is looking to work with new funders to support the sector and to create more proactive relationships with partners to collaborate with.

If you are interested in working with Plunkett, have any questions about the roundtable, Plunkett’s current services, or would like to contribute to or obtain a copy of our Community Pubs Strategy please contact Hannah Barrett, Community Business Team Leader at