New £35m fund launched for rural businesses

Rural businesses can apply for part of a guaranteed £35m fund to create new jobs, boost tourism and unlock growth.

The 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. 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.

Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency, said: “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.”

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

For more information on project eligibility and how to apply, view the RDPE Growth Programme handbook on the Government’s website.