The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Small grants made available to village halls in England

Defra funded grant scheme reopens for those managing rural community buildings, this time with a lower award threshold of £2, 000 to support smaller projects and make it accessible to more groups.

In 2023, a £3 million village halls fund was launched to provide support for the modernisation and improvement of village halls in England.

Managed by Action with Rural Communities in England (ACRE), the fund has already awarded over £1 million to rural communities, helping them undertake ambitious improvements to their building. Works undertaken or scheduled to take place include new roofs, insulation, extensions, and more energy efficient heating systems.
 
On 1st February, the grant fund re-opened to new applicants who wish to undertake smaller projects such as disability access, toilet upgrades and new kitchens. Grant awards of between £2,000 to £5,000, and up to 20 per cent of eligible project costs, are on offer. Project expenditure must take place before 31 March 2025.
 
A streamlined on-line application process and simplified eligibility criteria will make it easier for smaller projects to come forward for support. The scheme will remain open during 2024 until available funding is fully allocated. 
 
Deborah Clarke, Village Halls Manager at ACRE said:

“We hope the smaller grants on offer will help even more village hall management committees make much needed improvements to their buildings.
 
With increasing energy costs and the cost-of-living crisis, the need to have warm, welcoming and accessible spaces open to everyone has become ever more important in the countryside. Often village halls are the only place where people can meet and socialise locally, and they provide a venue from which many self-employed people earn a livelihood.
 
The availability of grant funding from government supports the continued use of these important rural assets”.

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