The new RDPE Growth Programme was launched by DEFRA on the 25th January 2017 and provides £120 million of EU funding for projects in England which create jobs and growth in the rural economy. There are 3 types of grant:
Business Development
Food Processing
Rural Tourism Infrastructure
The grants are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which is part of the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF). The RPA delivers the grants working with ESIF sub committees in Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas.
Farmers, growers, packers, processors and food and drink manufactures are eligible for funding providing they are able to invest in capital projects that will create jobs and deliver growth to their businesses. Applicants to the Business Development and Rural Tourism grants must be either micro or small businesses. Applicants to the Food processing grant can be micro, small or medium sized businesses. It is important you check the size of your business with eligibility criteria.
Eligible expenditure is different for each grant, but is summarised below;
Business Development – Construction or improving buildings which will create jobs and growth, including buying new equipment and machinery.
Food Processing – Construction or improving food processing buildings. Buying new food and drink grading, packing and processing equipment and machinery.
Rural Tourism Infrastructure – Capital expenditure on tourism infrastructure, including new accommodation, equipment and attractions.
For Business Development and Rural Tourism Grants the maximum grant rate is 40% up to £170,000. For Food Processing Grants the maximum grant rate is 40% up to £ 1 million. The minimum grant for all three grant schemes is £35,000.
How to apply
The application process is competitive. This means grants are not awarded automatically to an applicant. The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will assess all expressions of interest (EOI) to see which best meet the criteria. There is a rigorous 2-part application process (starting with submitting an ‘expression of interest’) to tell RPA about the work you’re doing and how the grant could help you with it.
If the RPA assesses that your expression of interest is suitable, they will invite you to submit a full application. The deadline for Expressions of Interest is the 31st December 2018 and the final deadline to claim grant money is the 31st December 2019, which means the RPA are under significant pressure to spend this European funding, before the UK leaves the EU.
Applicants must be aware that they cannot spend money on projects until they receive an offer letter from the RPA/DEFRA. Grants are not awarded retrospectively.