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Community Businesses

Community Businesses

This post, will be first in a series looking at social investment and community businesses.

Firstly, a bit about language; An organisation does not need to identify as community business in order to use social investment.  Also, many businesses that are in essence community businesses will not see themselves as such.  Therefore, Power to Change’s key features are a good checklist:

  • Locally rooted: They are rooted in a particular geographical place and respond to its needs. For example, that could be high levels of urban deprivation or rural isolation.
  • Trading for the benefit of the local community: They are businesses. Their income comes from things like renting out space in their buildings, trading as cafes, selling produce they grow or generating energy.
  • Accountable to the local community: They are accountable to local people, for example through a community shares offer that creates members who have a voice in the business’s direction.
  • Broad community impact: They benefit and impact their local community as a whole. They often morph into the hub of a neighbourhood, where all types of local groups gather, for example to access broadband or get training in vital life skills.

Bentley Pub

The Case is Altered pub is a community-owned, and largely volunteer-run, pub in the village of Bentley, Suffolk. We are open from Wednesday lunchtime to Sunday night.

The Community Owned Pub

We have over 200 owners, many of whom live in the village, but some come from all over the world. We bought the pub from Punch Taverns in February 2014, raising the money via a share offer; we had just £200 in the bank at the end of that process! We had a superb response from villagers, who turned up bearing gardening tools, paintbrushes, ladders – and just mucked in; we opened in Easter 2014, with paint still drying in places!

We ran the place just as a drinks pub for a year, purely with volunteer labour, raising money to do the next stage of refurbishment, and open the kitchen. We’ve now been operating for 5 years with an ongoing series of renovations to the building, the latest of which has been new bay windows at the front of the pub.

Five Years On …

The pub has gone from strength to strength and  it’s not too late to join our community, either as a shareholder, volunteer, or as a committee member.  New shareholders are immediately eligible to reclaim 30% of their investment back from the tax man.  To find out more visit

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