The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme has been established to support projects that invest in building businesses, creating new jobs and growing the economy in rural areas of England.
Funding is being provided through three national calls for projects, which have been developed in collaboration with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and which are open to support food processing, business development and tourism infrastructure projects.
The programme currently has a budget of £35 million. For the 2020 funding round, the threshold for minimum grants has come down from £35,000 to £20,000, meaning that more small or micro-businesses will be eligible for a grant for their projects. The amount which can be applied for depends on the size of the applicant’s business and where it is located.
Grant funding can help pay for constructing or improving buildings and buying new equipment and machinery. Businesses that are carrying out projects to boost employment or bring more money into the rural economy in their LEP area of England may be eligible to apply.
For business development projects, small and micro rural businesses, both new and existing will qualify. This includes farmers who want to diversify into non-agricultural activities. Food and drink businesses that process agricultural and horticultural products may apply for the food processing strand. Projects that are commercial in nature and intended to make a profit may apply for the rural tourism infrastructure aspect of the scheme.
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. “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.”
The deadline for Expressions of Interest is before midnight on Sunday 16 February 2020.