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New research highlights the social value publicans create by providing local services

The social value that pubs and publicans created by providing local services during the first Covid-19 lockdown has been unveiled in a new report from Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.


The report called ‘The Social Value of Pubs and Publicans providing Services in their Communities’ has for the first time measured the social value impact of pub services. Social value looks at the broad effects that an organisation is achieving with its work and takes into account the wider social, economic and environmental wellbeing benefits that a service or project can bring to an area.


Pubs and publicans ensured that essential services remained accessible to local residents at the heart of their communities during the Covid-19 lockdowns and they will be crucial in helping communities rebuild as the pub sector reopens.   


The evaluation undertaken by Cornwall Rural Community Charity, which is experienced in measuring social value, found that for every £1 spent on a project through the Pub is The Hub Community Services Fund, in the first lockdown, between £8.98 and £9.24 of social value was created. This illustrates that one suitable pub diversification project with a grant of £3,000 from the Community Services Fund could potentially create over £27,000 in social value to a local area.


The Community Services Fund, which was started in 2013, offers small grants to help pubs diversify and has already supported over 160 pubs to provide more than 30 different types of services including village stores, Post Offices, allotments, community cafés and libraries. Further projects are currently in the pipeline or awaiting funding provision.


The 25 Covid response pub projects analysed in the evaluation included village stores, community cafés and takeaways, food delivery services, IT and information hubs, a bakery, a workshop and community gardens.  The evaluation analysed various outcomes such as the impact that the projects had on helping support older, disabled and vulnerable people and how publicans worked collectively with local organisations to help reduce isolation and tackle social needs.


John Longden, chief executive of Pub is The Hub, said: “It proves how vital these services have been during the pandemic. Covid-19 has reinforced the importance of pubs and good publicans in helping local people.


“Publicans were often the first in their community to rise to the challenges and recognise the issues local residents were facing. The important social impact of publicans’ responses to local needs has often been essential to get people through the pandemic. As the market fully reopens publicans and pubs are going to be crucial in helping local areas rebuild as well as aiding Government priorities for economic recovery.”


Cornwall Rural Community Charity, development and evaluation manager, Gemma Finnegan, who independently conducted the research, said: “We are very proud of this piece of work that has highlighted the important social value of pub services during the first lockdown. 


“This is the first time that social value methodology has been applied to pub diversification projects and the results have been really positive, demonstrating the wider role publicans and pubs play in their communities. What is interesting is the major impact that Pub is The Hub projects have had in local areas and communities with only a small grant.”


Some examples are

  • The Brewery Tap: Publican Ebe Bonner set up a pop-up shop at The Brewery Tap, in Furneux Pelham, Hertfordshire, when Covid-19 hit in March 2020.  This was made into a permanent shop for the local residents, thanks to local support and a grant from the Pub is The Hub Community Services Fund.  
  • The Rose & Crown: Publicans Becky and John Gibbons converted a shipping container into a village store called The Larder at The Rose & Crown in Longburton, Dorset. The store was opened with support from Pub is The Hub’s Community Services Fund. 
  • The Green Man: Pub owner Richard Bradley and pub manager Jade Dillon set up the village store at The Green Man in Scamblesby, near Louth. The store was opened as a result of the Covid-19 shutdown in March 2020 with the support of Pub is The Hub’s Community Services Fund.