Rural businesses could struggle to secure European funding under government plans to centralise delivery of the Rural Development Programme.
On Monday (28 February), farm minister Jim Paice announced a series of changes to the RDPE, including transferring responsibility from eight Regional Development Agencies to DEFRA. However, he also revealed that the new teams would initially remain in existing regional locations where cost-effective, to provide locally accessible support.
The changes would be introduced on a staggered basis from 1 July. “This will ensure continuity of delivery for customers, and compliance with European regulations.”
Mr Paice also announced the 2011-12 budget, following complaints that some projects were in limbo. “Budgets are constrained and I have asked RDAs to ensure the funding available is focused on delivering against our key priorities for competitiveness and rural areas,” he said.