The UK government has released £35m (€41.44m) in funding for rural businesses in England through its RDPE Growth Programme.
The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) funding will be allocated to rural businesses and startups in the form of grants from £20,000 to £175,000 or up to 40% of eligible project costs; supporting business owners in purchasing equipment or machinery in order to accelerate business growth and open up tourism opportunities. £99m has already been distributed to local rural companies across England through the programme’s previous rounds, resulting in the creation of 3,771 new jobs in total.
Paul Caldwell, Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency, said: “The [RDPE] Growth Programme provides funding to the 98% 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. We are looking to support applications from businesses with ambitious plans to grow their business and provide wider benefits to their local community. 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.”
Companies which have received grants through earlier rounds of the RDPE Growth Programme include the Sheffield-based dairy farm and ice cream parlour Our Cow Molly, which was given a grant of more than £160,000 to purchase a new processing unit. The investment enabled Our Cow Molly to produce better quality milk and ice cream products, meaning the company was able to provide six new jobs as its business grew.
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 RDPE Growth Programme will be open to expressions of interest until 16 February 2020.