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People chat at a Leading the Way cohort meeting

Community business market sector estimates

In 2022, we estimate that 11,000 community businesses employ a total of 41,800 staff and 126,000 volunteers.

The estimated number of staff and volunteers across the community business sector generally remain consistent across the years. However, this year, we estimated that community businesses employed 11% more paid staff in 2022 compared with 2020 but engaged 15% fewer volunteers.

During the interviews, community businesses said that increases in the cost of living led some volunteers to reduce their volunteering hours in favour of paid employment elsewhere or stop volunteering completely:

We are going through a particularly tough time at the moment. especially in the charity sector… The voluntary hours being provided across the country are down by 40% in the last year, so people are not volunteering anymore. I’ve got volunteers who have been volunteering with me for x amount of years now, saying, I might have to go and get myself a part-time job now to top up my salary, to top up my pension to keep me going.

Hour Community

We estimate the total number of staff and volunteers in the sector using data from the Community Business Market Survey and a variety of secondary sources.



The Fieldgate Centre is run by the Kingsclere Community Association, providing a diverse and fundamental service to the local community. Located in a rural area, the building is a focal point for bringing people together, and allows the association to be financially sustainable through private hire activities.

A huge amount of work, restoration and upgrading has gone into the building, making it not only a crucial hub for the community but a valuable asset.

We’ve built revenue that can then further support community events and activities. And all those activities go towards the wellbeing of the people in the community and our business model is fundamentally about providing a venue that benefits the entire community’s wellbeing.

A woman shares seeds with another woman at Sqush Nutrition.


[1] Archer, T. et al. (2019) Our Assets, Our Future: The Economics, Outcomes and Sustainability of Assets in Community Ownership 

[2] Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (2021) Business population estimates for the UK and regions 2021: statistical release 

[3] Number of responses to the survey question (n)=987  

[4] n=1003 

[5] n=253 

[6] n=189 

[7] n=999 

[8] n=882 

[9] n=422 

[10] n=454 

[11] See Table 2 in the Technical Appendix in Section 5 for further detail on the multiple linear regression results. Note of caution: this model is the weakest of all used for analysis as it only accounts for 5% of the variation in respondents’ view on this topic. This means 95% of the variation in response remains unexplained. 

[12] As above