£9.7m in grant funding available for rural businesses through the Rural Development Programme for England Growth Programme
The latest round of grant funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area has been announced, with grant funding totalling £9.7m available to businesses in the food processing, tourism and rural business development sectors.
The RDPE provides funding for projects in England which create jobs and growth in the rural economy.
Applications are being sought for projects that will grow a business, create jobs or bring more money in to the rural economy. Grant funding can help pay for constructing or improving buildings, and buying new equipment and machinery.
Three grant funds are available:
• Rural Business Development Grants – helping fund the growth of small rural businesses, new or existing. This includes farmers who want to diversify in to non-agricultural activities.
• Rural Tourism Infrastructure Grants – helping fund the costs of capital expenditure on tourism infrastructure. The aim is to support projects that will encourage more tourists to come, to stay longer, and to spend more money in rural areas.
• Food Processing Grants – helping fund food processing businesses to grow and create jobs. This is for food and drink processing businesses which process agricultural and horticultural products. Examples include meat, milk, grain and root vegetables. Fisheries projects are not eligible.
The capital grants, which will be made available from the Rural Payments Agency, will fund up to 40% of a project’s costs with the minimum grant amount being £35,000. This means that a project's overall cost would need to be over £87,500 to be eligible for the funding. To be eligible for the grants, businesses must be located in the eligible rural areas of County Durham, Northumberland and Gateshead or within the North East Rural Growth Network boundary, (see map). The North East Local Enterprise Partnership works closely with Government to ensure that the European Funding allocation is aligned to projects that help deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan. Priority sectors are manufacturing and engineering, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, and knowledge intensive business services and creative businesses.
There is no deadline for applicants as the calls are open until January 2018, although applications will be reviewed every three months.
• Expenditure can be incurred up to and including November 2019. (The applicant will need to state expenditure within 6 month blocks up to November 2019)
Expression of Interest:
• 50 words to describe/summarise the project (see section 5), starting “This project will….”
• Section 6 is the business case: 100 words to describe the aims and objectives i.e. what the project will do for the business; what it will achieve
• Strategic fit with a) national and b) local priorities
• Section 7 is the justification for the project. The need, market opportunity, trade opportunities etc. Less than 500 words
• Section 8 is outputs.
Top Tips for Applicants:
• Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme
• There is a Defra Rural Services Helpline 03000 200 301. E.g. to check if specific costs are eligible
• RPA decision on EOI within 30 working days of receipt i.e. 6 weeks
• Decision on full application within 60 working days of receipt i.e. 12 weeks
The grants are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which is part of the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF).
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) supports European policy on rural development. To this end, it finances rural development programmes across the Member States and the regions of the Union. Programmes are designed in cooperation between the European Commission and the Member States, taking into account the strategic guidelines for rural development policy adopted by the Council and the priorities laid down by national strategy plans.