Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

This funding may help unlock your potential

At the end of August, the Farming Minister, George Eustice, announced that another tranche of money has been made available from the “Growth Programme” for rural businesses looking to expand and promote tourism. The new funding is worth more than £8 million and it is hoped it will help unlock the potential in farming businesses across the country, but understanding how to access such funding does not seem to be that straightforward.

The Growth Programme provides funding to help projects in England which create jobs and help the rural economy grow. These grants are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) manages the grants, working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

However, the LEPs may not be well equipped to manage the process of handling these funds. In the past, similar grant schemes have been variously handled centrally by DEFRA and then by the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and, following the demise of RDAs in 2010, by the newly created LEPs.

LEPs seem a rather strange invention of the last government, which simply scrapped the old RDAs for ideological reasons and then left it to local authorities and businesses to set up their own LEPs. This has proved difficult and now these bodies are being tasked with coordinating the delivery of funds such as the EAFRD and this may prove to be a big challenge.

Having looked at the “Heart of the South West” website which is the LEP covering my own area of Somerset and Devon, there is no obvious reference to this latest tranche of funding although in the August newsletter, rural businesses are signposted to the “LEADER scheme”, highlighted nationally by my Winchester-based colleague Chris D’Olley in the May edition of Longer View, which is described as “one element of the Rural Development Programme for England, funded by the EU and Defra. There is in the region of £12 million of funding available for projects that meet the eligibility criteria throughout most of rural Devon and Somerset, and the funding is available until December 2020.” 

The website goes on to say, “Grants will be available to support the local rural economy, and will be particularly aimed at increasing farm productivity, developing micro and small enterprises and farm diversification, rural tourism, rural services, cultural and heritage activity and increasing forestry productivity.”

The funding is being administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs), each covering a specific area and focused on the things that matter most to their local economies.

Click here if you are a farming business and you want to find out if you can get hold of some of the funding. Money becomes available in different areas at various times so it will pay to be aware.

James Stephen

James Stephen

Partner

James is a partner who heads up Carter Jonas’ South West rural operation, managing the teams in the four offices of Marlborough, Bath, Taunton and Truro.  He primarily works out of the Taun...

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