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The government has announced £35 million in funding to create new jobs, boost tourism and unlock growth in rural areas.
The government’s Growth Programme, which opens for expressions of interest on Monday, 4 November, 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.
Currently, the government has allocated £35 million to the program, but this figure could be increased to £50 million if there are enough high-quality applications.
The scheme has already granted £99 million to 546 local businesses across England, creating 3,771 new jobs in rural areas.
“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,” said farming minister George Eustice.
“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.”
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.
”The Growth Programme provides funding to the 98 per cent 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,” said Paul Caldwell, chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency.
“We are looking to support applications from businesses with ambitious plans to grow their business and provide wider benefits to their local community.”
The RDPE Growth Programme handbook is available on GOV.UK and contains information on which projects are deemed eligible for a grant and how to apply.
Interested parties need to send an expression 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.
If the Rural Payments Agency considers the project to be eligible, the applicant will then be invited to submit a full application. The deadline for all expressions of interest is Sunday, 16 February 2020.