Rural growth fund now available

FUNDING is now available for projects that will create thousands of jobs across England, says the government.

Some £2.9bn in development funding over six years has been earmarked for projects that support innovation and boost businesses.

The money from this latest round of the European Regional Development Fund is the most locally-led ever agreed for England.

Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local groups will have "an important and pivotal role" to shape how and where money is spent, said the government.

It has launched a special rural growth programme webpage so rural businesses can find out what grants are available, who is eligible and how to apply.

Defra minister George Eustice said: "The rural economy is hugely important to this country and we are committed to boosting enterprise across our countryside."

Speaking on Friday (20 March), Mr Eustice said the funding would encourage growth, create jobs and support the government's long term economic plan.

He added: "It is great news that the growth programme is opening – providing key funding to help rural businesses thrive."

The government has brought a range of European programmes for 2014-2020 together in a single package called the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme.

It says doing so will ensure local areas can fully exploit the range of European programmes open for the 2014 to 2020 period in a coordinated way.

Money making up this European growth programme fund is around £6bn (€7.2bn) and will be open for applications in the coming days.

It includes the European Regional Development Fund (€3.6bn), the European Social Fund (€3.4bn) and part of the European Agricultural Funds for Rural Development (€221m).

Priorities are research and innovation, supporting and promoting small to medium sized enterprises, creating a low carbon economy, skills, promoting employment and reducing social exclusion.

Rural organisations seeking funding can find out more about the programme and apply for investment here.


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