The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced a new programme which allows assistance for communities to take over control of local pubs, with an allocation of £3.6 million over two years.
More than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme is a £3.62 million, 2-year programme that will see a comprehensive package of business development support, advice, and loan and grant funding being delivered to community groups in England to help them establish community-owned pubs that can clearly demonstrate how they will bring significant social, economic and environmental benefits to their communities.
Jointly funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Power to Change, the programme will be led by Plunkett Foundation and delivered in collaboration.
The programme aims to support 80 community-owned pubs to open over 2 years and will offer a flexible package of support including access to an advice line, events, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits, and business development advice. It will also offer flexible bursary awards to fund very early stage activity, such as community consultation work, and a grant and loan package.
Forty communities have already successfully taken ownership of their local pub under community ownership, and over 1,200 have been listed as ‘assets of community value’ under community rights, highlighting the important role that pubs play in local communities.
The programme seeks to support pubs such as these, where they advance a charitable purpose to benefit their communities by, for example:
- providing regeneration through access to public services and facilities to those who are socially excluded
- promoting employment, education and training in areas of high social need
- encouraging volunteering, citizenship and community development as a hub for community groups
A local example is the Anglers Rest in Bamford, Derbyshire, which was purchased in 2013 by over 300 people from the local area and is now run for community benefit.
It not only houses the pub, but also a cafe and the local Post Office, and offers a much-needed community meeting venue, too. This has helped improve social cohesion and the regeneration of the village, and any profits generated by the Anglers Rest are reinvested back into the local community.
Speaking at the Campaign For Real Ale Parliamentary reception, Community Pubs Minister Marcus Jones said: ‘The Great British pub is a national treasure and this new £3.6 million programme will give our communities support to keep pubs at the heart of local life.’
Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change, said: ‘We are delighted to be partners in this effort to accelerate the number of community-owned pubs that can tackle problems of urban and rural disadvantage. By acting as hubs for a multitude of activities in their local communities, community-owned pubs can make a significant contribution to reducing isolation, improving well-being and providing access to basic services. They can bring the heart back to many communities that have been hollowed out by the loss of local services.’
Peter Couchman, Chief Executive of Plunkett Foundation, said: ‘This programme will significantly increase the number of community-owned pubs open and trading, bringing far-reaching benefits to local people. For many communities, pubs are not just a place to drink; they are central to peoples’ sense of place and identity, they provide an important place for people to meet and help to build community cohesion.’