Pub closure rates may make dismal reading, but the success of community-run pubs deserves to be celebrated, according to rural community businesses group the Plunkett Foundation.
A new report from the foundation shows that, at the end of 2017, the community pubs sector had grown by 30% in the UK, with 14 new pubs opening.
No community pubs ceased trading, with 85 premises open. An additional 153 group were exploring setting up a community pub.
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, the Plunkett Foundation is working with Power to Change on a £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.
Chris Cowcher, head of community business at the 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.”