Plunkett Foundation's annual ‘Community ownership: A Better form of Business’ research provides a state-of-the-sector view on how community businesses are responding to the cost of living and climate crises.
The report shows that despite facing significant challenges because of the cost-of-living and energy price crises, the community-ownership sector remains focussed on delivering social, economic and environmental impact.
The sector grew by 3% in 2022, with 27 new businesses opening. The total number of trading community business, at 31 December 2022, stood at 768 – with community-owned pubs by far the fastest growing business type.
58% of businesses surveyed state that they believe they are more resilient due to being a community-owned business. However, the report does indicate short-term concern for the sector, with the majority businesses stating that rising wholesale prices and overhead costs, coupled with lower customer spend will detrimentally impact their turnover and profitability in the next 12 months.
The long-term success rate for community businesses supported by Plunkett stands at 92%, which is a testament to the thousands of volunteers who are the heart of the sector.
Looking to the future and motivated by a mixture of reducing the operating costs and a commitment to climate action, the research has also shown strong support amongst community businesses for installing Energy Saving Measures (ESMs) and making improvements to business premises. 85% of businesses surveyed have either installed or are currently considering installing ESMs. This would not only make their operations greener but also reduce running costs in the longer-term.
As a further commitment to climate action, 72% of businesses surveyed state that they were proactively ‘sourcing locally’ for goods and products as part of their operation. Whilst 44% are taking action to reduce their waste (e.g. reducing use of packaging).