Tuesday, January 21, 2020

February deadline for £35m rural growth fund

December 23, 2019 by  
Filed under News & Business

Farmers are being invited to apply for a share of £35m in government funding to boost rural productivity.

The government’s Growth Programme – which could be extended to £50m – provides grants for rural start-ups and businesses to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and machinery to grow their business or open up opportunities for tourism.

The scheme has already granted £99m to 546 local businesses across England, creating 3,771 new jobs in rural areas. The maximum grant for food processing businesses is £750,000 – for all other rural businesses the maximum is £180,000.

Previous successful applicants include the dairy farmers behind the Our Cow Molly brand. They secured a grant of more than £160,00 to invest in a new processing unit, which allowed them to produce higher quality fresh milk and ice cream – creating six new jobs.

Unlocking potential

Defra 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.

“I would also encourage farmers to consider how they might use this funding to branch out and diversify their businesses, making the most of emerging trends and tastes and looking ahead to new opportunities.”

For this funding round of the growth programme, the threshold for minimum grants has come down from £35,000 to £20,000, meaning that more small or micro-businesses can be eligible for a grant for their projects.

Rural Payments Agency chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “I would urge all interested applicants to submit their expressions of interest as soon as possible to ensure they have plenty of time to complete a full application if their project is assessed to be eligible.”

Interested parties need to send an expressions of interest form to the Rural Payments Agency, outlining how they meet the criteria for the scheme – from creating new jobs, increasing business turnover, and improving productivity.

Applicants will be invited to submit a full application if the agency considers the project to be eligible. The deadline for all expressions of interest is Sunday 16 February 2020.

To check if your business is eligible, call the Rural Payments Agency helpline on 03000 200 301 or email GPEnquiries@rpa.gov.uk. For more information on how to apply, visit www.bit.ly/2020Growth.

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