More than a pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme


Status:Open to applications


Fund Value: £ 3,620,000


A finance package of loans and grants is available to community groups in England that want to take on the ownership of their local pub.

Value Notes

The programme aims to help 80 community pubs open over a two-year period.

A comprehensive package of business development support, advice and loan and grant funding is available to assist community pub businesses consider their viability at all stages of their development.

This includes:

  • Flexible bursary awards of up to £2,500 (inclusive of VAT) to fund pre-feasibility costs such as public consultation and valuations.
  • Combined loan and grant funding up to £150,000. This will not exceed £75,000 in grant contribution. The average grant is expected to be about £37,500. The average loan may be around £42,800.

Where the loan and grant combination is required the loan funding is a pre-requisite and grant monies will only be released once the loan has 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.

In addition, the following flexible package of support will be included:

  • An advice line.
  • Events.
  • Workshops.
  • Peer-to-peer study visits.
  • Business development advice.


Extended Description

The ‘More than a Pub: The Community Pub Business Support Programme’ is a new £3.62 million two-year programme which has been set up to support community ownership of pubs in England. It is jointly funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Power to Change Trust.

The programme will be led by Plunkett Foundation and delivered in collaboration with Co-operative & Community Finance, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Co-operative Mutual Solutions, Pub is the Hub and Locality.

The programme is seeking communities looking to consider taking responsibility for and ownership of their local pub, through purchase or long-term lease. In some cases existing community-owned or managed pub-based businesses may be considered, if they are looking to diversify for community benefit and can demonstrate a clear economic case.

This is the first time that the community pub sector is being offered access to an end-to-end support programme including capacity building and a finance package made up of loans and grants.


Key Criteria

Applications will be considered from organisations with agreed appropriate structures, which are Community Benefit Societies:

  • Co-operative Societies.
  • Companies Limited by Guarantee.
  • Community Interest Companies (large membership).

Regardless of legal structure, an asset lock, or other significant barrier, must be in place to ensure minimal private benefit (and notably the pub cannot be sold for the private benefit of those involved).

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.
  • 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 (large membership).
  • There is open membership, where new members are encouraged 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.
  • Surplus income will either be re-invested 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.


  • Can evidence that through establishing a viable community pub business, vital services will be maintained therefore enhancing the overall sustainability of the enterprise and wider community.
  • Are planning to provide additional services other than the core pub business which will benefit those who are socially isolated or excluded.
  • Will provide employment and volunteering opportunities with training that goes beyond the basic training required for the job.
  • Can demonstrate benefits to the environment.

Eligible Expenditure

The programme seeks to support pubs in England which advance a charitable purpose to benefit their communities by, for example:

  • Providing regeneration through access to public services and amenities 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.


There is an expectation that groups will raise some level of community finance which will be taken into account when determining the funding mix.

Application Procedure

The first step in the application process is to fill out an online Initial Enquiry Form which can be found on the Plunkett Foundation website.

Groups that need further information should call the Programme Advice Line.

Address & Contacts

Contact details:
Programme Advice Line
Plunkett Foundation
The Quadrangle
OX20 1LH
Telephone:01993 810730