The aim is to raise £1m for the Fund over the next two years, giving more licensees the opportunity to set up services for the community ranging from the opening of post offices and farm shops to the installation of libraries and the production of school meals in pubs.
John Longden, chief executive of Pub is The Hub, which is celebrating ten years of independent voluntary advice, said: “When I think of what we have achieved in the last ten years with relatively modest funding I know that we could do so much more with a national fund to fill those gaps.
“We are currently able to leverage every £1 in donations by a factor of seven so we really make every penny count. I’m enormously grateful to the Minister Brandon Lewis and Diageo for their incredible support over the years and for their significant contribution to kick-start The New Community Services Fund.
“I sincerely hope that other organisations will be able to follow their example.”
The Government has kick-started the Community Services Fund with a £150,000 donation to the Community Services project. This comes after yesterday's Autumn Statment,in which Chancellor George Osborne announced that the temporary doubling of the business rates relief scheme will be extended for another year.
Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis said: “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.”
Making a difference
Drinks giant Diageo has also got on board with the Pub in the Hub's Community Services Fund by donating £50,000, and the company’s chief executive Paul Walsh is urging other organisations in the sector to follow suit.
“I believe that the Community Services Grant Fund will help more licensees to make a real difference in their local community, to improve their local economy and to support local suppliers,” said Walsh.
The announcement took place at the Pub is The Hub ‘Ten Years On’ celebration. The event was attended by the Community Pubs Minister Lewis as well as pub companies, local authorities and rural service agencies.
For more information on Pub is the Hub and the new Community Services Fund, visit www.pubisthehub.org.uk