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Charles Hallam BA Hons MA, discusses the Rural England Prosperity Fund and the challenges that it poses for those wishing to access payments.
The Rural England Prosperity Fund was announced with great fanfare in November 2022, with the promise to provide £110million for rural businesses to diversify and ‘level up’. Funds have been allocated on a regional level, with each Local Authority given the responsibility to assess, and directly fund, applications. At this stage, they are only open for applications until the end of the 2024-2025 financial year.
In order to qualify, projects must be in a rural area, which the fund defines as settlements with a population below 10,000, or market towns with populations up to 30,000 that serve the surrounding rural population.
Whilst each Local Authority priorities different projects, broadly speaking, funding is available for farm diversification, for promoting the visitor economy, and for community and infrastructure projects.
Despite the aims of the fund, accessing payments can be a challenge. The fund aimed to open in April, but some Local Authorities are yet to accept any applications, nearly three months on. Where funds are open and applications do meet the criteria required, projects will have to be complete by the end of the 2024-2025 financial year deadline – a potentially tall ask when planning permission is required.
The fund is certainly a welcome addition to rural support and can provide much needed capital for projects in rural areas, but it is vital to ensure your application is compliant, thorough and well structured, to maximise the chances of obtaining funds.
If you are considering apply for funds, or wish to discuss your options further, please contact a member of our professional services team on 01823 653424,
or to speak with Charles directly, email email@example.com