Licensees who want to set up services such as post offices, shops or facilities for the elderly in their own communities will get a chance to access funds of between £2,000 to £4,000 under the new plans.
Drinks company Diageo, has kick-started the new fund with a £50,000 donation and its chief executive Paul Walsh urged other organisations in the sector and the Government to follow suit.
At an event last night to celebrate 10 years of Pub is the Hub, community pubs minister Brandon Lewis matched Diageo's £50,000 contribution and pledged a further £100,000 to the organisation. Chief executive John Longden wants to raise £1m over the next two years to fund the scheme.
Longden said: “Particularly in these harder economic times, we have a postcode lottery of grants available. You can get grants in Essex, which is fantastic, but you no longer can get them in Suffolk; you can get them in Yorkshire, but you can’t get them in Lancashire. Even in Cornwall, you can get them in the west, but it is harder to get them in the north. There is an uneven picture, and I have become increasingly convinced that the independent pub run by a licensee as a business in that community is best placed to know what a community needs.
“We need something almost as a fund of last resort — so where grants don’t exist Pub is the Hub can make small grants available of between £2,000 and £4,000, to really inspire licensees who want to have a go, but can’t get funding.”
He said that the money from the Big Lottery Fund for the Local Community Services Champions initiative had meant the organisation has had to measure its achievements much more closely and realised how successful it has become.
“I thought, let’s just have a go,” Longden added. “Let’s throw ourselves off the waterfall and make it happen. We don’t know if it’s going to work, but we have to give it a go as there are so many projects.
“We are currently able to leverage every £1 in donations by a factor of seven, so we really do make every penny count.”
Brandon Lewis added: “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.”