Facilitated by your membership of the Rural Services Network highlighting a selection of current rural economic development news, issues and opportunities
LEADER programmes making a real difference
This edition of the Rural Economy Spotlight includes a special feature which highlights a range of case studies from Leader programmes around the country. You will find this at the end of the Spotlight. Many thanks to all those who have contributed.
National Enterprise Network (NEN) and the Rural Services Network (RSN) have entered into a partnership to seek and maintain a clear view of business needs and opportunities in the rural areas of England. As part of this partnership we are planning four short surveys a year across the enterprise support organisations within NEN in order to understand and measure the views of those servicing rural businesses.
The 22 enterprise support organisations responding to the first survey carried out in February 2017 served over 3700 rural businesses over the previous 12 months. By far the most common issue considered to be facing rural businesses was broadband and mobile connectivity.
Ahead of the Opposition Day debate held in the Commons Chamber on 17 January 2017, a useful briefing paper was produced on the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the rural economy. The paper set out an overview of the issues expected to be debated and can be found via this link.
You can read all of Parliament's analysis of how leaving the EU will affect different policy areas in the UK here.
A new report by the World Economic Forum and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor focuses on a hidden aspect of European innovation – intrapreneurship.
Professor Mark Hart, of the Enterprise Research Centre at Aston Business School and co-author from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor said "While the UK's relatively high levels of start-up activity by European standards are often lauded this research shows that the entrepreneurial capacity of the nation goes way beyond new venture creation and is more important in terms of the future growth trajectory of existing businesses".
Catherine Morris-Gretton, Communications Officer at Broadland District Council writes:
Broadland District Council covers an administrative area that includes some of the hinterlands of Norwich city along with some remote rural communities touching the Broads and North Norfolk. Working to the maxim that our communities need to be at the heart of everything we do, our Business Support Team are kept busy by a wide variety of small and medium businesses to achieve one of the key ambitions of delivering economic success in the district. The diversity of the business supported can be seen in the brief overviews below:
The Prince's Countryside Fund provides more than £1m in grants each year to projects across the UK. Grants of up to £50,000 are available for innovative projects that will provide a lasting legacy to the individuals and communities they seek to benefit.
In the forward to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper the Prime Minister states that the Industrial Strategy is "not just a plan to leave the EU, but a plan to shape a new future for the kind of country we will be when we have left. It is a plan to build a stronger, fairer Britain that works for everyone, not just the privileged few." The strategy, therefore, constitutes an important opportunity to ensure that rural areas and their economies are properly considered as part of the country's plans for life after Brexit. In this context, the RSN has submitted a formal response to the Green Paper.
Official statistics concerning rural England are published regularly by Defra. The latest March 2017 edition of the "Statistical Digest of Rural England" contains a wide range of useful statistics and is available via this link. These cover:
• Rural population & migration
• Rural Economy
• Rural living
Defra's December 2016 "Rural Economic Bulletin" comparing high level economic indicators across rural and urban England has also been published and is available via this link. The five indicators currently used are:
The government offers grants to support the wider use of electric and hybrid vehicles via the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). This includes:
• The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) provides grant funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing electric vehicle chargepoints at domestic properties across the UK.
• The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a voucher-based scheme that provides support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charge-points, for eligible businesses, charities and public sector organisations.
• The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) provides grant funding for local authorities towards the cost of installing on-street residential chargepoints for plug-in electric vehicles.
You can find out more about these grants via this link.
Over many years, Leader programmes have demonstrated the value of local engagement and a rounded view of local economies where social and community support is an invaluable mechanism for ensuring economic development and growth are maximised. This is, arguably, of particular importance in rural areas where the connections between the environment, social and economic activity are of huge importance. Locally driven economic strategies have a clear role to play in future economic, industrial and other strategy, building on the lessons learned from the delivery of Leader programmes over many, many years.
Below are a series of short case studies supplied by Leader programmes around the country which highlight the breadth of activities supported and the local impact generated.
Project: Bakery Building Extension
W H Gayton & Sons Ltd is a small, family run traditional craft bakery located in the village of Grendon near Atherstone in North Warwickshire. Established in 1919, it is now in it's third generation of the Gayton family and has been operating in the same location since its origination. The business is wholly managed by David Gayton, Master Baker, who works alongside his brother Richard, also a Baker and his sister Elizabeth one of the Confectioner's. They supply a selection of bread and cakes to shops, garden centres, schools and residents in the local area.
Project: Business Centre
Manor Farm Business Park has been awarded £83,622 (40% of the total project costs of £209,055) of LEADER funding from Making it Local towards the refurbishment of three barns into a business centre offering office space for 4 businesses and flexible meeting space.
Project: Vineyard lodges
Central Sussex and Sussex Downs & Coastal Plain have so far approved grants totalling £374,688 for 12 projects. These are forecast to create 24 new full time equivalent jobs and 4,814 additional overnight stays over the next three years.
Project: Health & wellbeing centre
'Silverton Room 4 U' were awarded £57,828 (56.1% of the total project costs of £103,082.50), towards the investment in a new building on the site of some old toilets in Silverton. This building will be used as a health and wellbeing centre, with a particular focus on Dementia Care, and services for elderly residents, but open to all for health treatments such as chiropody, reflexology, and aromatherapy. The creation of 0.4FTE job with the project will bring additional benefits to this rural community.
Project: Potato washing facility
Margaret and Andrew Webster received £46,164 which was 40% of the total costs of a potato washing facility at Hollin House Green Farm in Aughton, West Lancashire.
The applicant supplies potatoes specifically for the crisping industry. Recent changes in specification from the industry meant that they now require washed potatoes meaning that the soil and dirt remain on farm rather than the factories having to dispose of it on delivery.
Project: Theatre group
The Common Players theatre group were awarded £21,662.68 (80% of the total project costs of £27,078.35) of LEADER funding from Making it Local to purchase an oil rig life boat, tent canopy, trailer and associated equipment to enable the common players to offer a unique production of the Ancient Mariner to coastal communities and tourists in East Devon.