Funding for rural businesses worth £110m opens in England

Local authority funding is being provided to support rural businesses and create new job opportunities through the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF).

The scheme will run for a two-year period from April 2023 until March 2025, providing £110m in funding across England.

Farm businesses located in eligible local authorities can apply for funding for farm diversifications such as accommodation and rural tourism enterprises.

See also: £44m for agriculture in government’s water plan

Funding will only be available in some regions including, but not limited to, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Shropshire, Somerset and Yorkshire.

A full list of local authorities providing the funding can be found on the government website.

The REPF is a rural top-up to the £2.6bn UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which provides funding through local investment.

Defra secretary Therese Coffey said: “Driving investment in rural areas is a vital part of our vision for levelling up the country.

“The new Rural Prosperity Fund replaces the bureaucratic EU funding system – allowing us to work closely with local leaders to direct funding where it is most needed to close the rural productivity gap, create job opportunities and protect the English countryside.”

Mark Tufnell, Country Land and Business Association president ,said: “The rural economy is 19% less productive than the national average, but reducing this gap could add up to £43bn to the economy.”

Apply early

Chris Sheldon, agricultural business consultant at Brown & Co, encouraged farmers to apply early and submit an expression of interest, with funding potentially being used up well before the March 2025 deadline.

Mr Sheldon says farmers and rural businesses can apply directly or submit expressions of interest through an agent if they are unsure whether their project is eligible or want to draw on professional experience to enable the greatest chance of their application being successful.