The Plunkett Foundation
The Plunkett Foundationsupports people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives; enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community. They help people to tackle a range of issues, from isolation and loneliness to poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and everything in between.
Values and Aims
Plunkett’s core values are the values of the great Irish co-operative pioneer, Sir Horace Plunkett, who founded the Plunkett Foundation in 1919. He believed that rural communities didn’t have to wait for someone else to make life better for them; they had the potential to do it themselves – with a little help. His values are embedded in the heart of what Plunkett do: Plunkett’s core values are the values of the great Irish co-operative pioneer, Sir Horace Plunkett, who founded the Plunkett Foundation in 1919. He believed that rural communities didn’t have to wait for someone else to make life better for them; they had the potential to do it themselves – with a little help. His values are embedded in the heart of what Plunkett do:
- Seek economic solutions to create social change
- Seek solutions that enrich rural community life
- See self-help as the most effective way to tackle rural needs
Essentially, Plunkett aim to support communities that are seeking to address local problems through trading activity that is needed, that will be economically viable and sustainable, and help alleviate poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion. This could include supporting the whole community or individuals that are financially disadvantaged, through to addressing wider social issues such as loneliness and isolation. This may be achieved by safeguarding vital services, creating jobs and training and providing opportunities for social interaction and involvement.
Plunkett also look to ensure the activity doesn’t displace any other trading activity which is serving the community. The enterprise needs to be generating benefits for the wider community, not just for those that are members of the co-operative, or those identified as being in poverty. This might be the creation of a ‘community hub’ that allows all members of the community to take part in some way and feel the benefit of being part of the community. On the whole, we allow communities to ‘self define’ themselves as rural owing to ‘rural’ looking very differently in different parts of the UK.
Plunkett support communities that want to create a community co-operative that will adopt a legal structure that enables genuine and democratic community ownership. There are many legal structures that will enable this, but they should feature:
- Open and voluntary membership.
- One member one vote.
- The interests of the co-operative are linked into long term community control.
- The distribution of profit does not enable some members’ greater control than others.
There will also be various ways in which the enterprise is managed but to meet with the above criteria, Plunkett’s expectation is that a community co-operative may look like any one of the following:
- Community owned premises, enterprise managed by community.
- Community owned premises, enterprise managed by commercial operator.
- Privately owned premises, leased by community co-operative, and managed by community.
- Other community premises (such as a church, pub, or village hall), enterprise managed by the community.
"More than a Pub"
- Support is targeted at community groups based in England looking to take on ownership of their local pub.
- It’s a 2-year programme ending in March 2018.
- Plunkett are looking for groups committed to delivering a community pub for the ‘benefit of the wider community’ e.g. providing: employment, volunteering opportunities, workplace training and additional services such as PO, café, cash point, informal meeting spaces etc.
- A range of support is available:
- A flexible package of support including advice and study visits.
- Targeted events – dates published in the Plunkett newsletter.
- A bursary of £2,500 (inclusive of VAT) for pre-feasibility costs such as public consultation and pub valuation.
- Combined loan & grant funding up to £150,000 but not exceeding £75,000 in grant contribution. (Average grant expected to be c. £37,500; average loan around £42,800.)
- Groups need to be planning for, or have raised some level of community finance.
- Acceptable legal structures include a Community Benefit Society (CBS)
- Eligible groups can apply for the pre-feasibility bursary award (£2,500) and support programme, without having to commit to taking on any further forms of finance. However, loan finance is a compulsory part of the finance package and a pre-requisite to grant funding.
- The project does not support private businesses.
- Groups with a leasehold are eligible, but the funding available will be dependent on the viability of their business model and the length and security of their leasehold agreement.
- Groups will be asked to complete an application form so that we can assess their eligibility and support needs. To be eligible for the loan and grant funding they will need to have:
- undertaken a community consultation;
- set up an appropriate legal structure;
- have a valuation of the pub property (or be in the process of getting one)
- be working on a business plan and an action plan, and and have raised some community finance