A source of grant funding available across the South West to businesses operating in rural areas has reopened to new applications. This is now 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.

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.

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. 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. Further details of funding opportunities and how to apply for each of the above three grants are available Here.

Note that Expressions of Interest need to be lodged by 16 February 2020.


For further advice on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or your local Thomas Westcott office.

Chris Hill, Partner