Calling all rural-based small social enterprises – you could be eligible for up to 100% grant funding through the new Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which covers many of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas in the country.

RDPE provides funding for projects in England that create jobs and growth in the rural economy. Under the RDPE Growth Programme small social enterprises can apply for funding to assist with business development and 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), and are delivered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). Now we have flagged up all the acronyms, the following is a summary of key points.

Business Development Grants

  • Who can apply? Small rural businesses (new and existing), social enterprises, and farmers who want to diversify into non-agricultural activities.
  • Eligible expenditure? Constructing or improving buildings, new equipment and machinery.
  • How much? This depends on each LEP area, ranging from a minimum grant award of £35,000 up to a maximum of £170,000. De Minimis State Aid rules apply with a maximum 40% intervention rate.
  • Outputs? Satisfy local LEP priorities and achieve at least two of – create higher-skilled jobs (at least 1 FTE for every £30,000 grant), increase turnover & profitability, improve productivity, sell into new markets, and access export markets.
  • Example Project – investment into new capital equipment to up-skill staff, increase efficiency and sell into new markets.

Rural Tourism Infrastructure

  • Who can apply? If your project is commercial and intended to make a profit, then only small businesses and farmers who want to diversify can apply. Non-profit making projects led by community groups, non-profit organisations, charities and public bodies are also eligible.
  • Eligible expenditure? Capital expenditure on tourism infrastructure.
  • How much? This depends on each LEP area and the type of project / applicant. The minimum grant award starts at £35,000 up to a maximum of £170,000 under De Minimis State Aid but some LEP areas have no upper limit for other projects. Intervention rates start at 40% but can be awarded at 80% or 100% for non-profit or non-income generating projects.
  • Outputs? Satisfy local LEP priorities and achieve at least two of – create skilled jobs (at least 1 FTE for every £30,000 grant), extend the tourism season, develop tourist attractions to increase spend and stay, and provide benefits to the wider tourism economy.
  • Example Project – small building for tourist information or creating a countryside path to improve accessibility and enhance the tourism experience.

Postcode location will determine eligibility and rural status. The application process is in two parts, typically taking between 5-6 months. There is an Expression of Interest deadline of 31st May 2018 and final claims submitted by 31st March 2019, subject to availability of funds. Further details can be found at –

You can also contact Bishop Fleming’s Director of Grant Services, Ewan McClymont, on 03333-219000 or email, .

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