Pubs and local shops are at the heart of the community, but changing consumer habits have led in many cases to a decline in the use of the local shops or pubs, which has been a strain on the sustainability of many rural businesses.
In some cases, running these key facilities as community businesses may be the best way to maintain the service and to ensure the local community is invested in supporting it.
A community shop or pub is a business owned and controlled by a number of people from within the community for the benefit of the community. The shop or pub is owned by members (shareholders), who are volunteers, and it is run democratically with a one-member-one-vote system and an elected committee or board. The committee can either delegate the day-to-day management of the business to a team of paid staff and volunteers or sublet to a tenant who will operate the business within a framework set up the community.
The businesses use a mixture of loans/mortgages, donations/fundraising and community shares, and some grants, to raise the required finance.
Legal structures include Community Benefit Societies (CBS), Co-operative Societies, Companies Limited by Guarantee, and Community Interest Companies (CIC). CBS is the most popular model, as it is the model that can issue community shares.
Core services offered by these shops or pubs include post office services, collection point for parcels, cash back at the till, home delivery, community information board, book exchange, home delivery.
There were 95 known community pubs and 363 community shops trading across the UK by the end of 2018 (source: Plunkett Foundation report)
Assets of Community Value (ACV)
The introduction of Localism Act in 2011 allowed communities to register pubs and other community facilities as Assets of Community Value (ACV), giving them greater planning protection against possible demolition or conversion. A successful registration gives the community the right to bid for the asset.
A building or land can be an ACV if its main use has recently been or is presently used to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community and could do so in the future. The Localism Act states that ‘social interests’ include cultural, recreational and sporting interests.
A number of community organisations can make nominations, including parish councils, neighbourhood forums, unconstituted community group of at least 21 members, and not-for-profit organisations including charities.
A building that is listed as an Asset of Community Value will remain on the register for five years and provides the opportunity for two moratorium periods to be triggered. Both start from the date the owner of the asset informs the local authority of their intention to sell. The first is the interim moratorium period, which is six weeks, during which time a community organisation can determine if they want to be considered as a potential bidder. The other is a full moratorium period, which is six months, during which a community organisation can develop a proposal and raise the money required to bid to but the asset.
Once the six months is up the building's owner can then decide whether to sell his property and who to sell to.
A briefing document from the House of Commons Library is available at: https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06366
Local assets need to be registered with East Hampshire District Council, and they provide guidance on how to apply for this at: https://www.easthants.gov.uk/assets-community-value
Assets currently on the EHDC register include Horndean Library, the Grayshott Social Club, the Jubilee Hut (Scout hut) in Grayshott and various pubs across East Hampshire:
- The Three Horseshoes, Worldham
- Fox & Pelican, Grayshott
- The Village Inn, Buriton
- The Queens Head, Sheet
- The Greatham Inn, Greatham
- The Crown Inn, Headley
Frensham Village Shop https://www.frensham-village-shop.co.uk/
Is a community-run shop with a professional manager, three part-time postal staff, and 50 part-time volunteers. They are registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC). They offer a wide range of services including a Post Office which is open from 9am to 7pm.
Milland Stores & Café http://www.millandstores.co.uk/
Is a community-run shop and café with paid staff and volunteers. It is open seven days a week and offers postal services, but not a full Post Office counter.
Funding & Support
The best place to start is with the local Parish Council and District Council to find out the type of support or grants they can offer. Further options include:
Action Hampshire https://actionhampshire.org/
They offer support and advice for not-for-profit organisations to deliver services to local people and communities
Plunkett Foundation https://plunkett.co.uk/
Set up in 1919, the Plunkett Foundation supports people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run community businesses.
They offer advice on a wide range of practical aspects including formulating a business case, legal structures, raising funds, engagement with the community, and many case studies. Detailed documents are available via their website.
Power to Change https://www.powertochange.org.uk/
An independent charitable trust that supports and develops community businesses in England. They use their endowment to strengthen community businesses, providing money, advice and support. They run specific programmes that are open to applications.
Pub is the Hub https://www.pubisthehub.org.uk/
They encourage communities, licensees, pub owners, breweries and the private sector to work together to match community priority needs with additional services which can be provided by the local pub and a good licensee. They can also offer advice on community ownership.
Princes Countryside Fund https://www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk
Established by HRH Prince Charles in 2010, it exists to improve the prospects of family farm businesses and the quality of rural life. It provides grants of up to £50,000 for projects that will provide a long-term positive impact to the individuals and communities they seek to benefit.
Sustaining Rural Communities
- Projects that deliver assets and services that keep isolated communities together and develop a more sustainable rural economy
- Developing sustainable rural community assets, businesses and services
- Providing advice and new skills and business training that benefit the local economy
Improving the prospects of viability for farm and rural businesses
- Projects that will focus on developing stronger, more sustainable farm businesses and other rural enterprises with the aim of halting the decline of the rural economy
- Encouraging local food production and short supply chains and knowledge transfer e.g. farmer networks
- Providing new skills and training for rural, and agricultural benefit
Supporting Aid Delivery in Emergency and Building Resilience
- Projects that support farm businesses, rural businesses and communities to plan for and recover from natural disasters such as flooding or animal disease and build resilience.
Current scheme is being reviewed and a revised strategy is due to be launched in January 2020
There is a second scheme supported by the Princes Countryside Fund that works in partnership with the Plunkett Foundation and Pub is the Hub groups to act as a catalyst for community engagement. Support and guidance is provided to communities to collaborate and learn from others to build plans for projects that reinvigorate or restore vital assets. Funding is then provided to those that meet their eligibility criteria in order to support the community to create change.
The aims are to:
- Reinvigorate community networks by assisting with rebuilding community assets
- Improve the health and well-being of socially isolated people through providing access to improved community assets and a network of support
- Create a lasting legacy of support and community spirit in the areas supported
Other useful links:
Hampshire and IoW Community Foundation http://www.hiwcf.com/
an independent charitable Foundation and the largest philanthropic grant-maker working exclusively across Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Southampton and Portsmouth.
The National Lottery Community Fund https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/
Responsible for distributing funds raised for good causes by the National Lottery. They give grants from £300 to over £500,000 to organisations ranging from small local groups to major national charities.
Funding Central https://www.fundingcentral.org.uk/
A free resource for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises with an annual income below £100,000. They list thousands of funding and finance opportunities, plus a wealth of tools and information.
Past announcements on gov.uk:
Please note: the content on this page is intended for initial information only. More recent material may be available, and groups interested in pursuing any of these options are advised to search on gov.uk and elsewhere for the most up-to-date.