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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.

Funding body: Power to Change
Maximum value: £ 100,000
Application deadline: None specified

Background
More than a Pub was set up in 2016 to help support community ownership of pubs in England and grow the range of services they offer to help local people.

The 2020 round, funded by Power to Change, follows on from the £3.7 million programme jointly funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Power to Change from 2016-19. The programme is delivered by the Plunkett Foundation in collaboration with Co-operative and Community Finance, Key Fund, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Co-operative Mutual Solutions, Pub is the Hub, British Beer and Pub Association, MHCLG and Locality.

Objectives of Fund
The current round (Autumn 2020) makes a range of support and funding available until December 2020. The support includes allocated business development advisers, help with community consultations, advice on legal forms, business planning, community share offers and, bursary awards. Groups can access the full range of support from the pre-venture stage, or just the elements they need, depending on how well their plans are developed. When a group is ready to purchase a pub, they can access a combined finance package consists of a loan and a grant.

Value Notes
A total of £2.2. million is available for the current round which runs to December 2020.

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.

The following funding options are available:

  • Bursary awards of up to £2,500 for early stage groups who have already received Adviser support through the More than a Pub programme to cover set-up costs, community engagement costs, and meeting costs (using online platforms). There are a limited number of bursaries and it is a competitive process.
  • Loan and grant combined funding package of up to £100,000 (£50,000 loan and £50,000 grant) to help community groups secure control of their local pub. Funding can be used for capital costs only. This is a highly competitive process as there are a very limited number of these packages available. Full details of the loan terms are in the guidance notes on the Plunkett Foundation website.

Groups will also be able to access:

  • Action planning support with an approved adviser outlining the keys steps involved in setting up a community pub business.
  • Learning, events and peer networking with existing community pub businesses and sector specialists through study visits, online events and webinars and monthly Zoom meetings.
  • A tailored package of business-development advice.

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

Who Can Apply
Applications will be considered from organisations that are incorporated or intend to incorporate and which are using, or planning to use, one of the following legal forms:

  • Community Benefit Society.
  • Co-operative Society.
  • Company Limited by Guarantee.
  • Community Interest Company (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).

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be intending to take ownership of an existing pub, which has either recently been closed or ceased trading, and be able to demonstrate that the pub is for sale. Applicants will need to have proof of ownership or a suitable lease (either land registry documents or a signed copy of the lease) before funds can be drawn down.
  • Want to open and run the pub as a community business, ie the business will be:
    • Locally rooted.
    • Accountable to the local community ie democratically run with evidence of regular community input into decision making.
    • Trading for the benefit of the local community by either reinvesting surplus income in the business to run services that benefit local people or using it to support the community events, training, etc.
    • Providing broad community impact.
    • Have a charitable purpose.
    • Have local support and investors.
    • Be considerate of environmental and other responsibilities.
    • Have an up-to-date (less than six months old) independent valuation of the building, structural survey and a feasibility study that considers the costs and risks of the building project alongside alternative options.
    • Have a business plan and breakdown of the project costs.
    • Have planning permission in place, along with any necessary statutory consents.
    • Be able to meet any diversity and inclusion obligations under the relevant legislation, for example the Equality Act 2010.

Location
England

Restrictions
The loan and grant funding will not pay for revenue costs that are those associated with paying people for their services, except access consultants.

Eligible Expenditure
The programme seeks to support pubs in England that advance a charitable purpose to benefit their communities by tackling one or more of these community needs:

  • Reducing social isolation eg by offering activities such as a low-cost lunch club, a community choir or book club for elderly or socially isolated people in your community.
  • Improving health and wellbeing eg by hosting services such as health and social care drop-in sessions, a meeting point for walking, running, football and cycling groups and a community defibrillator.
  • Increasing employability eg by providing opportunities for volunteering and employment for people furthest from the labour market.
  • Creating better access to basic services eg by supporting community transport such as a minibus, hosting an after-school club, a post office, a shop, a prescription pick-up point or a library bus.
  • Improving the local environment eg by providing access to woodland, a garden or allotment.
  • Enabling greater community cohesion eg with charity fundraising and community events, offering meeting room space for community groups and councillor surgeries.
  • Fostering greater community pride and empowerment eg by getting the local community involved in these activities and celebrating their achievements.
  • The loan and grant funding is to pay for capital costs only, such as the purchase of land, buildings, construction, and equipment.

How To Apply
After being closed for nearly five months due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis, the programme is now open for applications.

Applications will be accepted at any time and are assessed at Panel meetings on the second Thursday of every month. Applications must be submitted by the 28th of the previous month.

The first step in the application process is to contact Plunkett via the advice line or by filling out the online enquiry form.

If eligible, applicants will then be provided with a link to the Request for Support application form. The Foundation advises on the outcome of all Request for Support applications within 10 working days.

The overall process for Loan and Grant funding generally takes between four months and a year, depending on the readiness of the group and willingness of the pub owner to sell on the property.

Useful Links
Plunkett Foundation