Community pub funding extended to support sites ‘most impacted by closures’

Community-owned pubs will receive an extra £2.2 million in funding from Power to Change, a programme set up to help save local watering holes from closure.

The programme builds on the work of the More than a Pub initiative, a £3.6 million initiative which originally launched in March 2016 to save local pubs from closure.

More than a Pub, which is backed by Power to Change and the Ministry of Housing Communities Local Government, offers support to community-owned pubs including access to an advice line, events, workshops, peer-to-peer study visits, and business development advice.

The programme is led by the Plunkett Foundation in collaboration with Key Fund, Co-operative and Community Finance, The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Co-operative Mutual Solutions, Pub is the Hub, Locality and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

“Pubs are at the heart of our communities and play a vital role in our lives,” Brigid Simmonds, head of the BBPA, said.

“Sadly though, too many are closing their doors for good. The More Than a Pub programme will boost community pubs across the UK and help those where there is the most impact of pub closures.

“The pub is far more than just a place to drink and the More Than a Pub programme will also aid the work of other initiatives such as Pub is the Hub to show how valuable our local pubs are.”

Around one in four pubs have closed since the 2008 financial crisis, according to a report published by the Office for National Statistics in November.

Birmingham has suffered the biggest rate of closure since the turn of the millennium, with 220 net pub losses since 2001. Pubs in the London borough of Hackney, by contrast, have benefitted from the UK’s craft beer boom, with 30 net new openings in the past 18 years.

“We’ve seen countless examples of pubs that have been saved by committed campaigners who recognise just how valuable a local is to an area – often it is the last remaining public space, and provides a vital place for people to meet and socialise,” Tom Stainer, CAMRA’s chief campaigns officer, said.

“Once saved, these pubs are often completely transformed and revitalised, and we’re seeing increasing numbers of community pubs nominated for national CAMRA awards such as the Pub of the Year, which is to be celebrated.”

The Power to Change programme allows local communities to invest in and operate pubs of their own in a bid to combat the rate of decline.

Some 96 pubs have opened under the scheme since 2016.

Funding for the new programme will be available from summer 2019.

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