The Government has reopened the Rural Growth Programme for applications.

The Expressions of Interest window will close at midnight on 16th February 2020.

Following the earlier rounds which saw £100m of grant awarded, a further £35m is being made available under this new round.

A minimum grant size of £20,000 has been announced which should enable more micro and smaller businesses to benefit from support in this round.

The same three themes from earlier rounds – Business Development, Tourism Infrastructure and Food Processing – remain with maximum grants under the Business Development and Tourism themes limited to £ sterling equivalent of €200,000. The maximum grant under the Food Processing theme will be limited to £750,000.

To help applicants, three Handbooks, one for each priority theme, inform about eligibility criteria and other considerations for grant awards. 

The Handbooks, which are essential reading for applicants are all available from the Rural Payments Agency alongside expression of interest forms and guidance.

In this programme, the Rural Payments Agency takes all decisions, but receives advice from the Swindon and Wiltshire ESIF sub-Committee on the local priorities that appear in the Handbooks. Decisions to invite firms to make full applications will be made at three points expected to be around June 2020, August 2020 and October 2020.

Proposals should align with the purpose of the fund - for inclusive growth in rural locations which strengthens rural communities by creating jobs and opportunities outside of main towns and cities.

Applicants will need to show that projects will keep within the rules which govern grant aid and indicate how firms will manage compliant projects.

Grants will usually be valued at 40% of total project costs, and project expenditure will need to be match-funded by applicant businesses.

For detailed questions and advice, potential applicants should contact the RPA helpline by calling 0300 020 0301 or via GPEnquiries@rpa.gov.uk  

The Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the local LEADER Programmes (delivered by Wiltshire Council and Community First) are keen to help local firms benefit from the funds. An applicant workshop will be held in conjunction with the Rural Payments Agency later this year. If you would like to discuss a proposal you are working towards on an informal basis, please make contact through europeanfunding@swlep.co.uk