Grant Funding for Rural Businesses

At Start Point Finance we are always on the lookout for grants and funds which could support our clients. Following successful implementation of several Regional Growth Fund backed transactions, where up to 40% of asset purchases were grant funded, we have been contacted by an accountant with news of further grant funding.

The grants are available across the South West to businesses operating in rural areas. They are available to support projects that increase rural jobs, growth and productivity in rural areas. Rural businesses and organisations can now apply to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) for grants through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme. This funding is available to all types of businesses operating in “rural” areas (they are not just available to agricultural businesses, but most business types). The grant typically is not available in the larger towns and cities, but is available in smaller towns in the region and also in countryside locations.

Up to £50M of additional funding is being made available for the re-launch of this grant programme. Funding is split across three specific strands, with the details of funding available and grant levels based on the Heart of the South West LEP area:

‘Rural Business Development Grants’ – Farm businesses diversifying into non-agricultural activity and new or existing micro and small businesses in most other sectors (including social enterprises) in rural areas can apply for capital grants between £20,000 and £175,000 to support business start-up or expansion.

‘Food Processing Grants’ – New or existing food and drink processing businesses (including farm businesses diversifying into food and drink processing) can apply for capital grants from £20,000 up to £750,000 to support business start-up or expansion. Micro, small and medium sized business can apply. Note that in certain circumstances this particular funding strand is also available in urban areas (i.e. Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple, Torquay, Paignton, Exmouth).

‘Rural Tourism Infrastructure’ – Rural businesses, farmers, landowners, charities and public bodies can apply for capital grants from £20,000 for projects that improve the local rural tourism offer by delivering new or enhanced rural tourism assets and infrastructure.

They are primarily focused on supporting capital investment (buildings, plant, machinery etc), with a typical intervention rate of 40%. With the minimum grant levels as noted above, that would mean projects with a minimum capital spend of above £50,000 are going to be eligible (previously the minimum grant was £35,000, with a minimum project cost of £87,500 – so more business projects should be eligible this time). In addition, projects will have to meet certain priorities, for example, for general business development at least 2 of the following 5 need to be achieved:

  • Create jobs – Creates new, higher-skilled or higher-paid jobs. Creates at least 1 FTE job for every £30,000 of grant funding.
  • Grow your business – Increases turnover and profitability.
  • Improves productivity through innovation – Introduces new techniques, equipment or processes.
  • Open new product markets – Helps a business sell goods or services to new customers or markets.
  • Export – Helps a business access export markets.

The Food Processing and Rural Tourism grants have slightly different priorities, but are on a similar theme.

There is a competitive and two-stage application process, comprising an expression of interest and a full application. Match-funding is also required – which Start Point Finance will of course be happy to assist with.

This is going to be relevant to anyone contemplating a project capital spend in the next couple of years – it won’t work for someone looking at capital expenditure in the next six months.

Closing date for submitting Expressions of Interest is 16 February 2020.

If you would like to know more or think you might qualify for a grant, please phone the office on 01548 854334, or email tim@startpointfinance.co.uk.

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