Community businesses grew by 5 per cent over the past year, in response to community efforts to rescue public services under threat of closure, according to a report by the research institute, Power to Change.
The Big Lottery funded organisation which was set up in January to support community businesses, found that the growth of community businesses outstripped the growth of charities by 1 per cent and small businesses by 2.3 per cent.
According to the report, The Community Business Market in 2016, some 300 local libraries in England are now run as community businesses, marking a 20 per cent growth from 2015.
Some 1,100 sports and leisure facilities (10 per cent) are now run as community businesses, while 40 local pubs (14 per cent) and 330 local shops (3 per cent) are also now run as community businesses.
The businesses re-invest surplus back into the local area and are also more likely to make ends meet through trading profits rather than grant income – with 35 per cent reporting trade as a priority over the next year, according to Power to Change.
Richard Harries, director of Power to Change, said: “Community groups are showing themselves to be increasingly business savvy and resilient as they gear-up for more tough times ahead.
“Communities are worried about the future of their public services and high streets, but these figures show that local people are also taking solutions into their own hands. Thousands of much-loved buildings and services would have disappeared if community businesses hadn’t stepped in. This sort of model is here to stay. It represents a sea-change in the way our local communities are planning for the future.”
Income from community businesses currently stands at more than £1bn, while combined assets rose to £2.1bn in the last year, according to the report.