Defra eases rules for Countryside Productivity scheme grants

Defra has relaxed rules for applicants of the Countryside Productivity Small Grants (CPSG) scheme, following concerns equipment bought under the scheme would not arrive in the permitted time frame.

Applicants initially had 150 days to submit a claim and receive new equipment, but were liable to lose grants if delivery fell outside of this period.

See also: New £60m small grants scheme – all you need to know

This led to concerns that items such as fixed and mobile livestock-handling systems and cattle crushes could not be manufactured in time.

However, in response to the issues raised by producers and the NFU, successful applicants will now be able to take receipt of equipment outside of the 150-day window, receiving payments when the kit arrives.

Farmers who withdrew applications during the 14-day cooling off period can reinstate claims now or during a second round of funding due to open in the autumn.

Next steps for applicants

The RPA will contact producers who withdrew grants for livestock-handling equipment to inform them of these new options.

Applicants with further concerns should contact the RPA directly.

Defra added that 3,500 grants had been awarded worth £23.5m, a 57% increase on the £15m originally budgeted for the scheme’s first round, thanks to its popularity.

Reaction

“This is a positive move to improve a successful scheme,” said NFU chief economics adviser Andrew Francis.

“The CPSG scheme has been a really positive initiative from Defra that has been easy for producers to apply for.”

Dr Francis added he hoped these latest amendments would mean the scheme did not become a victim of its own success.

Countryside Productivity scheme grant facts

  • Scheme worth £60m for improving farm or forestry productivity, adding value to agri-food and water resource management and reservoirs.
  • Grants from £3,000 to £12,000 provided for equipment such as livestock handling systems, crushes, weighing equipment, arable GPS units, yield-mapping devices and direct or strip-till drills.
  • It pays out 40% of the total equipment value. So for a grant of £3,000 the minimum equipment cost will need to be £7,500, which must be paid upfront by the applicant before being claimed back.
  • Deadline for the scheme was 14 March 2018

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