The Rural England Prosperity Fund - Defra's boost for the rural economy

The Rural England Prosperity Fund – Defra’s boost for the rural economy

Alex Hall

Alex Hall

Oct, 05 2022

Defra has recently launched a new £110 million fund, succeeding both LEADER Funding and the Growth Programme. A key aim of the fund is to create jobs in rural areas, helping to boost the rural economy and assist farmers in diversification. The scheme is called the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF or ‘Rural Fund’).

The Rural Fund is essentially a top-up to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The scheme will sit alongside Defra’s Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme and the RPA’s Farming Investment Fund. However, the REPF cannot support businesses if they are already receiving support from these other programmes.

We hope the scheme will be available from April 2023 to March 2025 but it is expected to be delivered by local authorities, meaning there may well be some regional variation in access.

Practical examples of what the Rural Fund could be accessed for include:

  1. Creating holiday lets
  2. Opening farm shops and cafes selling local produce
  3. Developing a wedding or events venue

If successful, applicants must use their grant on capital projects for lasting assets and not, for example, on domestic property improvements, running costs or promotional activities.

Applications will be judged on evidence of local challenges, market failures and opportunities, combined with how value for money will be achieved and why private finance is not available for the proposed investments. In addition, applicants may benefit from demonstrating how their project will unlock future investment and how it will engage rural partners.

If you would like to have conversation about your rural business’ potential projects to understand if you could be a beneficiary of the Rural Fund, then please get in touch. We’ll be happy to provide our expert advice on your fund/grant opportunities.

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