£313 million of Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) funding available

With a total funding pot of £313million, landowners, farmers, rural businesses and rural based charities should act now to make the most of existing RDPE grant funding to support projects pre-Brexit, advises Tom Arthey, director of farm business consultancy firm Arthey Associates.

There are three main programmes available: RDPE Countryside Productivity Scheme (national) worth £140m; RDPE Growth Programme (regional) worth £45m; and LEADER Programme (regional) worth £138m of funding, with any funding secured pre-Brexit being guaranteed by the government. The tender process for all three schemes is competitive, with applicants scored against each other on criteria such as value for money, job opportunities created, deliverability and sustainability.

As with most grants, there are restrictions to applications; applicants can only apply for one type of grant towards any given project, and RDPE rarely fund 100% of the cost, typically 40% is offered. For the national Countryside Productivity Scheme and regional Growth Programme, the minimum awarded is £35k, up to £170k. Local LEADER Programmes offer £2,500 funding and upwards, but this is discretionary.

Countryside Productivity Scheme

The national Countryside Productivity Scheme funds projects to improve productivity in farming and forestry, whilst creating growth and jobs in the rural economy. The three elements applicable to farmers are Water Resource Management, Added Value to Agri-Food and Improving Farm Productivity. All three grant types are for a minimum of £35k funding, a maximum of 40% of the eligible costs.

Water Resource Management provides grants for arable and horticultural businesses looking to improve farm productivity through more effective irrigation, on-farm water storage and use, with a deadline of 29th June 2018. Applications for Added Value to Agri-Food grants have the same deadline and are open to processors of primary agricultural or horticultural products, including food and drink businesses and farmers, who want to improve processing of agricultural products to shorten supply chains and deliver benefits to primary producers. There is a longer deadline for Improving Farm Productivity grants of 3rd December 2018, for farmers to improve farm productivity through use of technology, including support for buying and installing machinery and equipment.

Growth Programme

The regionally controlled RDPE Growth Programme is aimed at funding projects in England which create jobs and growth in the rural economy. There is a competitive tender process and all projects must be applied for by 31st May 2018. These grants include a Business Development Programme for small rural businesses (including farmers) who want to diversify into a non-agricultural activity. The minimum grant varies regionally but is £35k for Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough. The grant also encompasses a Rural Tourism element to support new visitor attractions, leisure activities and infrastructure.

LEADER Programme

The third and final RDPE grant available is the LEADER Programme, which are local initiatives managed by a Local Action Group (LAG) to support projects that increase farm productivity, provide support for micro and small businesses, boost rural tourism and provide rural services, provide cultural and heritage activity, and increase forestry productivity. This is another competitive tender, with £138million of funding allocated for 2015-2020. Each LAG has its own Local Development Strategy to follow and funding is available for farms, rural businesses and community groups.

Potential claimants can now make their applications and Arthey Associates are happy to sit down with you and work out what funding you could be eligible for.

Please contact Tom Arthey on 07748 295 448 or tom@artheyassociates.co.uk for more information.

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