While the stats for UK pub closures make for rather dismal reading, with 25% reported to have gone the way of a dodo since 2001, there's a sub category that continues to thrive.
Pubs owned or run by members of the community or on behalf of the community increased by 30% in 2017 (the most recent figures), according to a new report from independent trust Plunkett Foundation. During this period, 14 new pubs opened, bringing the number of community pubs in the UK 85. Meanwhile, 153 groups were actively exploring setting up a community pub.
‘We are delighted to see trading figures that continue to demonstrate how community businesses are at the forefront of strengthening the rural economy,’ said Chris Cowcher, head of community business at Plunkett Foundation.
In contrast to the latest figures from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) which found that pubs are closing by a weekly rate of 12, the Plunkett Foundation claims that no community pubs ceased trading since it started keeping records in 2014.
The report highlighted that community pubs benefit local people by improving health and wellbeing, alleviating social isolation and loneliness, and boosting the local 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,’ said Cowcher. ‘They bring people together of all ages, backgrounds, interests, and give them a purpose to interact; put simply, community pubs reduce social isolation and loneliness.’
This summer, the foundation will be launching a £2.2m programme in partnership with Power to Change that'll fund communities interested in saving their local pub through community ownership.