Rural England Prosperity Fund
A new grant scheme
There’s new money coming for farm and rural businesses. There will be grants towards capital expenditure from every rural authority in England. It’s there to support rural businesses, and, to quote Defra, it is to:
“Support new and existing rural businesses to develop new products and facilities that will be of wider benefit to the local economy. This includes farm businesses looking to diversify income streams.”
REPF – this is an acronym it will be worth getting to know; it stands for the new Rural England Prosperity Fund. It is grant money that is available to farms and other businesses in rural local authority areas. Your local council will have been checked over by Defra to see if it qualifies as being ‘rural’. If it meets their rural criteria, and some 111 authorities have done, then the council will have been awarded REPF funds and been asked to design a scheme to deliver them. The money is substantial, with a range of from £400,000 to over £2m and often in the order of about £700,000 to £1million. It is short-lived and must have been spent by March 2025.
Each local authority are designing their own scheme; therefore, they will not be uniformly the same as previous rural development grant schemes. The table below begins to indicate this.
How do you know what your local REPF scheme is about, what it will fund; what the funding limits are; what is the percentage rate of the grant; what are the time limits? All you can do is to look at your own council’s web site and see what their REPF scheme has to offer. To find out whether it is even a rural area and has any REPF funds, the funding allocations can be seen on the Defra web site.
We do know the following have launched as of July 2023
|County||Council||Total amount available||Grant rate: Business Support||Grant rate: Community Support|
|Buckinghamshire||Buckinghamshire||£1,828,695||Between £2,500 and £300,000 at 40% grant rate||£0|
|Essex||Braintree District Council||£589,191||Between £10,000 and £50,000 with at least £10,000 match funding||Between £10,000 and £50,000 with up to 100% match funding|
|Colchester City Council||£532,195||Between £5,000 £150,000 at 50% grant rate||Between £5,000 and £80,000 at a grant rate of 80-100%|
|Chelmsford City Council||£532,195||Up to £10,000, up to 80% grant rate||Up to £10,000, up to 80% grant rate|
|Tendring District Council||£659,335||Between £5,000 and £20,000 with at least 25% grant rate||Between £1,000 and £20,000 with up to 100% grant rate|
|Uttlesford District Council||£813,487||Between £5,000 and £150,000 at 40% grant rate||Between £2,500 and £15,000 at a grant rate of between 80-100%|
|Hertfordshire||East Herts District Council||£472,841||Between £5,000 and ££50,000 at 50% grant rate||£0|
|Norfolk||Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk||£1,496,455||Between £10,000 and £100,000 at a grant rate of 50%||Up to £50,000 at a grant rate of 75%|
|North Norfolk District Council||£1,457,851||Between £10,000 and £100,000 at a grant rate of 50%||Up to £50,000 at a grant rate of 75%|
|South Norfolk and Broadland District Council||£1,485,340||Up to £100,000 at a grant rate of 50%||Email for specific information|
|Northamptonshire||North Northants||£1,161,812||Between £10,000 and £50,000 at a grant rate of 50%||£0|
|Suffolk||East Suffolk Council||£1,129,881||Between £15,000 and £30,000 at a grant rate of 75%||Between £15,000 and £30,000 at a grant rate of 75%|
|Mid Suffolk & Babergh District Council||£1,443,027||Between £5,000 and £10,000 at a grant rate of 50%||Between £5,000 and £10,000 at a grant rate of up to 100%|
|Wiltshire||Wiltshire Council||£2,649,324||Integrated with UKSPF|
How to win a grant
There’s no such thing as free lunch and, while grants are free money and don’t have to be paid back, there are rules and obligations which must be borne in mind. It takes time to put together an application, with more of it for appraisal and possibly waiting for a decision by an award panel that only meets at certain times. You have to be open about your business and explain it and your plans, normally just in writing – there won’t be face to face meetings and discussions. Grants are competitive – other people are after them as well, so you must have a convincing case, together with the numbers backing it up to show that your plans are sound, sensible and profitable.
A grant will only provide a proportion of the funding to set up the new project so where will the rest (called match funding) come from? The local authority will ask for evidence that you can provide it; it can come from your own business reserves (you’ll need a current bank statement to prove it); or from a loan from the bank or from a private source like family or a friend – and you’ll need a letter from them to confirm it. You won’t know the exact amount you need until you’ve got the quotes in, but you’ll have an idea of the scale of the plan, and it’s a good idea to have early talks with your bank and probably your accountant to make sure they understand your plans and are supportive.
Once you’ve sent in the grant application, you have to wait – don’t start the project. Capital grants are not retrospective and if you start before being awarded a grant, the funder will believe you don’t need one.
Above all and throughout, make it as easy as you can for an appraiser to say yes to your application.
- Have a clear plan of what you want to do and why.
- Check to see if your local authority has REPF funds.
- Understand the authority’s scheme and their priorities.
- Know the dates for an application.
- Make a complete, concise application, providing all the information that’s asked for.
- Be patient.
If you would like support in making an application from applying for planning permission to borrowing match funds to writing the application, please contact a member of our team who would be delighted to help and guide.