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COVID-19: How community businesses in England struggled to respond to their communities’ needs

Gardner, Mandy; Webber, Don J; Parry, Glenn; Bradley, Peter


Mandy Gardner

Don J Webber


Economic policies tend to downplay social and community considerations in favour of market-led and business-focussed support. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for greater and deeper social cohesion and local social support networks while highlighting that an overreliance on market forces can create social problems at times of need. Community businesses (CBs) are not for profit organisations that provide services and produce goods where the profit (or surplus) is reinvested back into that community. This article explores why CBs in England responded in a variety of ways to the COVID-19 pandemic, assesses what government policy did to help and hinder their place-based operations, and explores the observed socioeconomics of their age-related volunteer staff churn. Some CBs were ravaged by the consequences of the pandemic and associated government policies with many becoming unsustainable, while others evolved and augmented their support for and services to their communities, thereby enhancing their community’s resilience. We highlight how adjustments to government policies could enhance the sustainability of CBs, making them and the communities they serve more resilient.


Gardner, M., Webber, D. J., Parry, G., & Bradley, P. (2021). COVID-19: How community businesses in England struggled to respond to their communities’ needs. Local Economy, 36(6), 524-540.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 13, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 11, 2021
Publication Date Sep 1, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 9, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 4, 2022
Journal Local Economy
Print ISSN 0269-0942
Electronic ISSN 1470-9325
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 6
Pages 524-540
Keywords COVID-19; Community business; Local resilience; Community life JEL: R11; O17; J18; H12; I18
Public URL


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