Deadline for £20m rural broadband funding extended

Farmers and agricultural businesses have been given an additional three weeks to apply for their share of £20m of rural broadband funding.

The deadline for the third and final round of applications for the Rural Community Fund has been extended from 24 May to 17 June – giving rural communities and local authorities extra time to apply for support.

The joint DEFRA/Broadband Delivery UK Fund aims to help hard-to-reach rural communities with limited or no internet, to access superfast broadband to give their businesses and communities a greater opportunity to profit and grow.

So far more than 50 applications have been invited to submit final proposals to begin work to bring broadband to their areas.

Communities and local authorities can bid for 50% or more of the total eligible project costs. The money will be used to help them build infrastructures to put broadband in place.

DEFRA junior minister Richard Benyon said: “Rural broadband is crucial to getting the economy moving and businesses growing. Funding is still available and I don’t want communities to miss out on this great opportunity.

“Superfast broadband is transforming the lives of rural businesses and communities by helping them tap into new markets, get better exposure and save time in their working day.”

A whole range of groups acting on behalf of local communities can apply for funding, including social and community enterprises, businesses, community trusts and charities, as well as local authorities.

The fund is part of a £165m package of initiatives DEFRA is delivering to “unlock the economic potential of rural areas”.

More information about how to apply can be found via the Rural Development Programme for England website or from the Gov.UK website.

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