Co-operative and Community Finance has pledged to provide up to £2m of new loans to help 50 communities set up and run their local pubs.
A new programme – led by the Plunkett Foundation – will provide grants to communities matched with loans from Co-operative & Community Finance and a contribution from the communities themselves. The programme will also provide a range of advice and support to communities to help them through the process of setting up a community-owned pub.
Co‑operative & Community Finance has been working with the Plunkett Foundation for three years on a similar support programme for community-owned shops.
The Birmingham Post reported that village residents have opened shops in Yarpole, Herefordshire; Cleeve Prior, Worcestershire and Long Marston and Barford in Warwickshire. A local group in Wigmore, Herefordshire, set up a shop as part of a scheme to cut down on carbon emissions; it proved a huge success, with business doubling in the six months since it was opened.
People living in Claverdon, Warwickshire, set up a co-operative village shop to replace one that closed because of economic pressures. Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham, whose wife volunteers at the shop, said: “Village shops are at the very heart of communities and we must make sure they stay that way.”
Community-ownership is already working for the 233 village shops now being run as co-operatives and it is hoped that some of the 40 pubs closing down each week will be saved, as communities come together and buy their pubs as community assets.