More than a pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme is a unique two year programme established to help support community ownership of pubs England. 

Its value is £3.62 millions and is jointly funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Power to Change.

Plunkett Foundation is leading this exciting programme and delivering it in collaboration with Co-operative & Community Finance, Keyfund, the Campaign for Real Ale, Co-operative Mutual Solutions. Pub is the Hub and Locality.

For the first time it will offer the community pub sector access to an end-to-end support programme including capacity building and finance package made up of loans and grants.

The programme will increase the number of community-owned pubs open and trading. For many communities, pubs are not just a place to drink; they are central to people’s sense of place and identity, they provide an opportunity for meeting up and they foster community cohesion.

What support is available?

A comprehensive package of business development support, advice and loan and grant funding has been developed to assist community pub businesses to consider their viability at all stages of their development which includes:

  • a flexible package of support including:
    • an advice line
    • events
    • workshops
    • peer-to-peer study visits
    • business development advice.
  • Flexible bursary awards of up to £2,500 to fund pre-feasibility costs such as public consultations and valuations
  • Combined loan and grant funding up to £100,000 but not exceeding £75,000 £50,000 in grant contribution. Where the loan and grant combination is required the loan funding is a prerequisite and grant monies will only be released once the loan had 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. There is an expectation that groups will raise some level of community finance which will be taken into account when determining the funding mix.

Who is eligible for support?

The programme is seeking communities looking to consider taking responsibility for and ownership of their local pub, through purchase or long-term lease. All applicants for loan and grant funding will be expected to evidence clear and significant viable benefits to their local community for their plans, as well as some funding already raised within the community. In addition community groups will need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Can demonstrate commitment to genuine community-ownership and control within the local community
  • be based and working in England
  • There is open membership, where new members are encourage to join and be involved as part owners
  • Governance is democratic, with a one member, one vote policy
  • Can demonstrate that their proposal advances a community and social purpose and provides public benefit, with no or only minimal private benefit involved
  • Commitment to engaging widely with the local  community, and if appropriate, surrounding areas
  • Can be using, or plan to use a range of agreed appropriate structures, which are Community Benefit Societies: Co-operative Societies, Companies Limited by Guarantee and Community Interest Companies. Regardless of legal structure, an asset lock, or other significant barrier, must be in place to ensure minimal private benefit.
  • Surplus income will either be re-invented in the undertakings or used to support the objects of the enterprise in some other way. In this context, the payment of interest on share capital will be seen as an operating cost and not a distribution of surplus and must comply with the Charity Commission’s statement on the payment of interest. There will not be any form of profit distribution.
  • Has an asset lock, or sufficient barriers in place to ensure the pub or its assets cannot  be sold  for private benefit
  • Can evidence support  within the local community and that some community finance will be or has been raised in support of the project.