Sunday, 18 May 2014 20:36

Businesses help shape rural grants

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Businesses help shape rural grants

RURAL business in Cumbria are to learn more about the next wave of European funding under the LEADER programme.

A series of drop-in sessions about the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) are being held this month for businesses and stakeholders across the county.

The aim is to help local voices help shape how the 2015-20 LEADER programme is delivered and start preparing applications for grants.

Cumbria has been a flagship area for RDPE LEADER funding in the past, with two areas - the Cumbria Fells and Dales; and Solway, Border and Eden- delivering £15m worth of grants and support.

This was largest amount spent anywhere in England since the programme started in 2007.

Guidelines set out by the EU and Defra suggest the next tranche of the programme will focus on projects which deliver economic growth and create new jobs.

Now Cumbria County Council is ensuring that the programme will be aligned with ambitions set out in the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership's Strategic Economic Plan.

A series of workshops are being held during May so businesses and stakeholders can give their input.

People can also fill out a short survey online to give their input on how they feel previous programmes operated and how the next one can be improved.

David Southward, the council's cabinet member for economic development, said: " Cumbria has been at the forefront of the LEADER programme, delivering more grants and creating more jobs than anywhere else in the country.

"It can give small rural businesses the kick start they need to go on and deliver future growth.

"We're now in the transition phase between the last programme and the next one and we want as many people as possible to contribute their ideas and ask questions at these consultation events.

"This will assist us in setting priorities and developing action plans for when the next programme opens up for applications next year."

Preparation for the next wave of funding follows the success of the 2007-13 Cumbria RDPE LEADER Programme, which created a total of 321 jobs and safeguarded 112.

This is more than the 100 jobs the programme was contracted to create by Defra and more than any other LEADER Programme in the country.

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