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2nd October 2023

Community-owned pubs have increased by 62.6% over the last 5 years, new research finds

New research from Co-Operatives UK has found that the number of community-owned pubs has increased by 62.6% over the last five years. This figure shows impressive growth, considering the backdrop of record closures in the wider industry.

Community pubs involve people coming together to form a new democratic business where ordinary people can own a stake and where the pub is run for the benefit of the local community.

New research also shows that credit unions grew revenues by 13.5% and added 40,000 new members in the last 12 months. These not-for-profit financial institutions are owned and controlled by their customers, demonstrating the popularity of fairer and more equitable forms of finance during the cost of living crisis.

The research is from a new report from trade body Co-operatives UK, which shows that the cost of living crisis is driving the growth of democratic businesses like co-operatives, mutuals, credit unions and building societies as communities look for fairer, more ethical finance options to help at a time of financial crisis.

The report is the first ever to measure the full size of the ‘Democratic Economy’ in the UK – meaning those businesses and organisations that give people genuine control and ownership. It reveals that there are 9,113 such businesses in the UK with a combined annual income of £87.9 billion.

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said:

“As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, we really are coming full circle, with co-operation at the heart of economic growth. Everywhere in modern business, from AI to farming and culture to data, there are co-ops.

“This report demonstrates the resilience, growth and power of co-operation. Ahead of the political party conference season, I urge all parties to move away from business as usual and embrace those democratic business models that are giving people real power, control and a stake in the future.”

Alongside the research, to help with a compelling broadcast package, we can offer the following:

  • Interview and filming with case study Great Western Credit Union, a business offering ethical savings and fair loans to people in the South West of England. This includes access to the CEO of Great Western, James Berry, and to a service user who began using the credit union as a consequence of his own difficult financial situation during the cost of living crisis.

  • Access to beneficiaries of the people using these services to support with finances during the cost of living crisis. This gives us insight from the real experiences of people driving the growth of credit unions.

  • Interview with Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK who can discuss the insights behind the growth of the sector and the impact to communities/on the economy

  • Equally, if there’s a specific sector you are more interested in, we have a wealth of case studies to offer – from community pubs to housing societies and community co-ops supporting the energy crisis. We can happily package up specific sector details and case studies if there’s an angle most of interest.

Contact: Paige Evans,

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