£110m Fund to Help Level Up England’s Rural Communities

The Rural England Prosperity Fund has been announced as a ‘top-up’ for councils to deliver as part of the UK Government’s levelling-up programme.

The UK Government has allocated £110m to the new Rural England Prosperity Fund to help local authorities support businesses such as farms, wedding venues and pubs.

The fund will be jointly rolled out by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

It is set to be invested in projects to boost productivity and create rural job opportunities. Examples include farm businesses which are looking to open a farm shop, wedding venue or tourism facilities or improvements to rural community hubs such as pubs or village halls.

Investment will also provide capital grants to develop, restore and refurbish local, natural, cultural heritage assets and sites and for the provision of gigabit-capable digital infrastructure at rural community hubs.

A rural top-up for eligible local authorities, the Rural England Prosperity Fund will be in addition to the £2.6bn allocated by the Government via the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and will be integrated into the UKSPF.

The announcement of the fund coincides with the release of the Government’s ‘Delivering for Rural England’ report which sets out how “rural interests will be at the heart of the Government’s approach to levelling up”.

The fund prospectus has been published. Eligible rural local authorities are required to submit an addendum using the Rural Fund addendum platform, which will be launched on 12 September 2022. Throughout September 2022 engagement sessions with local authorities and local partners will be held to support the Rural Fund process.

The submissions window for eligible authorities is expected to be 3 October 2022 to 30 November 2022. The UK Government is expected to make decisions on funding in early 2023 and councils should receive their first payments in April 2023.

(This report was the subject of a GRANTfinder Newsflash.)