New community services fund boost for British pubs

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New community services fund boost for British pubs

The rural pub services and community champions, Pub is The Hub, has today announced the launch of The New Community Services Fund to help UK pubs to diversify into new services provision for their own communities.

John Longden, the Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub wants to cut the postcode lottery that currently exists in the UK for funding rural services and raise £1 million over the next two years to provide consistent national coverage. The Government, a long-time supporter of community pubs, has already kick-started the fund with a £150,000 donation to the Community Services project. In addition the drinks company Diageo plc, has donated £50,000. Chief Executive Paul Walsh urged other organisations in the sector to follow suit.

The announcement took place at the Pub is The Hub ‘Ten Years On’ celebration to recognise its ten years of independent voluntary advice and the achievement of many great licensees in supporting projects. The event was attended by the Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis, pub companies, local authorities and rural service agencies.

In launching the new fund, Pub is The Hub recognises that good licensees today can work with the public, private and voluntary sector to improve the local economy. It has advised and supported small scale diversification schemes and community acquisitions all over England, Wales and Scotland; from the installation of libraries and production of school meals in pubs through to larger capital projects such as farm shops and post offices – the range of new services is growing all the time as other rural businesses sadly decline.

Pub is The Hub calculates that in their ten years over 350 pub landlords have diversified into new services for the benefit of their local communities and more vulnerable residents. Schemes such as these have attracted the attention of Age UK, the Patient’s Association and the Big Lottery Fund the latter of which has supported the Local Community Services Champions scheme for the last three years.

Initiated by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2001, the voluntary organisation has grown each year but has survived on modest funding from supporters since then. A boost in funding from the Big Lottery Fund from 2010 for regional workshops and the launch of a nationally-funded scheme for pubs in Wales has highlighted the need for national provision across the rest of Britain.

John Longden said: “When I think of what we have achieved in the last ten years with relatively modest funding I know that we could do so much more with a national fund to fill those gaps. We are currently able to leverage every £1 in donations by a factor of seven so we really make every penny count. I’m enormously grateful to the Minister Brandon Lewis and Diageo for their incredible support over the years and for their significant contribution to kick-start The New Community Services Fund. I sincerely hope that other organisations will be able to follow their example. ”

Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis said: “I am delighted to announce we are giving Pub is The Hub £150,000 for their project. The Government is taking decisive action to support community pubs including doubling business rate relief, which gives up to 100 per cent discounts for small firms including pubs and postponing revaluation will also avoid local pubs facing an 11 per cent rise in their business rates bills.

“This is on top of abolishing the last Government’s cider tax, cutting red tape on live music in pubs and stopping unfair sales of alcohol below cost-price by supermarkets. We have given councils powers to offer local business rate discounts and the Community Right to Bid lets communities protect their pubs and guard against their unnecessary loss.”

Paul Walsh added: “I believe that the Community Services Grant Fund will help more licensees to make a real difference in their local community, to improve their local economy and to support local suppliers. I am delighted that Diageo is making the first donation to the fund and I know that by continuing to work together, as an industry and at a local, community level, we can secure a future for those communities that need the most help.”