Grant scheme aims to support rural communities

More than £24 million of grant money has been made available to support rural communities, as part of a new government-led Growth Programme.

Farming Minister, George Eustice, recently announced that applications for the new programme would be open to any projects that will bring benefits and economic improvements to local areas.

This could include helping people start or grow a new business to creating new food processing facilities or boosting tourism.

Applications will be scored against a range of criteria including local priorities, with those who look to address local priorities more likely to receive funding. The funding from the Growth Programme will be provided through individual grants worth upwards of £35,000.

Initially, the grants are to be offered to nine Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) by the Rural Payments Agency, followed In August and September by two more rounds of funding, where remaining LEP areas will get the chance to apply.

The programme is just one of a number of initiatives aimed at boosting the economy of rural areas over the next six years and is part of the larger Rural Development Programme (RDF), which is planning to invest £3.5 billion into rural economies by 2020.