News & Articles

£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 for more information.

Self-assessment deadline

If you file your self assessment tax return online, don’t forget you need to do this by midnight on 31st January 2018. If you find yourself short of time in the New Year this is something we can complete for you as a one off, or as part of an ongoing bookkeeping arrangement. Get in touch!

Act now to avoid missing Woodland Creation Fund grants and Countryside Stewardship worth up to £10,000

Landowners and farmers should act now if they wish to access the Woodland Creation Fund capital grants under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, warns Tom Arthey, director of farm business consultancy firm Arthey Associates.

As the name suggests, the grants are to assist with the costs associated with the planting up of areas of woodland, with a minimum size requirement of three hectares (which can be split into parcels as small as 0.5 hectares), and offering up to a maximum grant of £6,800/ha. The Fund is open to applications from 2nd January 2018, with the window of opportunity closing on 16th February 2018. For 2018 only, the grant will additionally assist with the funding of infrastructure, such as tracks, of up to 40% of those costs.

Successful applicants will have two years to purchase and plant trees under the Woodland Creation Fund, and three months to submit their claim. The woodland must be maintained for five years after the claim.

As well as the capital grants, farmers can also apply for grants towards Woodland Creation Maintenance, worth up to £200/ha per year contribution for a 10 year period to help with the ongoing management costs, as well as also potentially getting a one-off contribution towards the creation of a Woodland Management Plan for both new and existing farm woodland. Potential claimants can apply for £1,000 if they have 3-50ha, £1,000 plus £20/ha for over 51-100ha, and £2,000 plus £10/ha for the management of woodland over 100ha.

The schemes will be jointly delivered by Natural England, Forestry Commission and Rural Payments Agency, and supersedes any previous woodland stewardship schemes.

In addition to these woodland grants, four new Countryside Stewardship offers have recently been announced to open for applications in the New Year, with an aim to boost biodiversity and protect and enhance farmland and the countryside. These comprise Online Arable Offer, Lowland Grazing Offer, Upland Offer, and Mixed Farming Offer, providing opportunities for landowners and farmers across the country to deliver environmental benefits through a non-competitive application process.

The total budget available for Countryside Stewardship has been increased to £10million and the maximum grant that individuals can apply for has doubled to £10,000.

DEFRA claims that the scheme has been simplified to make applications easier, whilst the popular Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant will receive additional funding in 2018 up to a maximum grant of £10,000, up from £5,000 in previous application rounds. The new scheme allows applicants to deliver as few as three options, and there is synergy between the old ELS and HLS schemes and the new offering.

All elements of potential funding push towards achieving year round food, shelter, and nesting habitats for birds, as well as nectar sources and habitat for pollinating insects. The four offers have differing minimum requirements, varying from selecting at least two options under the Lowland Grazing Offer, while the other three offers require at least three options to be implemented during the agreement period.

Potential claimants can now make their applications for both the Woodland Creation Fund and Countryside Stewardship online from 2nd January, 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 for more information.