Government announces £35m fund to grow rural businesses

The Government has unveiled a £35m fund for rural businesses to create local jobs and boost productivity. Here's how to apply

The Government is giving rural businesses a guaranteed £35m to create new jobs, boost tourism and unlock growth.

This figure could rise to £50m if there are enough high-quality applications.

The funding is part of the Government’s Growth Programme and is open for expressions of interest from Monday 4 November. The programme provides grants for rural start-ups and businesses to buy equipment and machinery to grow their business or to open up opportunities for tourism.

A substantial £99m has been granted to 546 local businesses across England so far, creating 3,771 new jobs in rural areas. What’s more, the threshold for minimum grants has come down from £35,000 to £20,000, so more small and micro businesses can be eligible for funding.

Farming minister George Eustice said:

“Our dedicated fund for rural businesses has created more than 3,700 jobs and supported a diverse group of businesses, tourism operations and start-ups to unlock their full potential.

“This next round of funding will help more businesses to grow and local areas to prosper – and I would urge any rural enterprise to look into what this scheme could do for them.”

Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency, added:

“The Growth Programme provides funding to the 98pc of the rural economy in England that isn’t directly engaged in farming. From heritage railways to creameries and vineyards, small and micro businesses have benefited from the investment available under the Growth Programme in recent years.”

You can have a look at the RDPE Growth Programme handbook on the Government’s website – it has info on which projects are eligible and how to apply. Send an expression of interest form to the Rural Payments Agency, outlining how you meet criteria for the scheme. It could be creating new jobs, increasing business turnover and improving productivity. If successful, you’ll be invited to submit a full application.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Sunday 16 February 2020.

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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