Rural England Prosperity Fund

What is Rural England Prosperity Funding and how does it benefit the rural areas of Bedford Borough?

Some local authorities have been eligible for funding from the Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF). This fund is a top-up to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to support activities that specifically address the particular challenges faced by rural areas. 

Bedford Borough successfully secured £552,352 from the Rural England Prosperity Funding (administered via DEFRA). This funding will be administered via the provision of competitively awarded grants for rural communities and businesses.

The funding programme will run for two years from September 2023 to March 2025, completing at the same time as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation.

Which areas are eligible for REPF?

For REPF purposes, rural areas are:

  • towns, villages and hamlets with populations below 10,000 and the wider countryside
  • market or ‘hub towns’ with populations of up to 30,000 that serve their surrounding rural areas as centres of employment and in providing services.

To see whether you are located within an eligible area for REPF, open the link to DEFRA’s Magic Map and follow the instructions:

  1. DEFRA Map to show REPF eligible areas: Magic Map Application.
  2. Under ‘Table of Contents’ select ‘Administrative Geographies’ then ‘Other Administrative Boundaries’ then select ‘Rural England Prosperity Fund’.
  3. Search for the location by entering the postcode within the search bar (top left of page) or manually zoom in on a location.
  4. You will find a toolbar of icons above the map. Select the ‘Identify’ icon and click on the location of your project on the map. A pop-up box will appear notifying you if the area is considered rural for the purposes of REPF.

What can REPF be invested into?

REPF funding will be for capital investment only. This means that it must be spent on assets such as a building or equipment which are expected to be used for a period of at least one year.

Local grants awarded using REPF will provide capital funding to:

  • support new and existing rural businesses to develop new products and facilities that will be of wider benefit to the local economy. This includes farm businesses looking to diversify income streams.
  • support new and improved community infrastructure, providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.

What is the REPF Addendum and how will REPF be invested locally?

To access funding under REPF Bedford Borough Council produced specific additional information as an addendum to the UKSPF investment plan.  As part of this the Borough Council consulted with stakeholders, including the Rural Affairs Committee, BRCC and the Chair of the Town and Parish Council Network to identify specific interventions. 

For each of these interventions there are objectives, indicative outputs and indicative outcomes as well examples of projects.

The following intervention priority areas were identified for supporting rural businesses:

  • Funding for small scale investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas. 
  • Funding for the development and promotion of the visitor economy.

The following intervention priority area was identified for supporting rural communities:

  • Funding for active travel enhancements in the local area

The objectives, indicative outputs and indicative outcomes for each of the identified interventions are given in the sections below:

Supporting rural businesses

Funding for small scale investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas

 

Intervention Objectives Indicative outputs Indicative outcomes

Funding for small scale investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas. 

Including capital funding for net zero infrastructure for rural businesses, and diversification of farm businesses outside of agriculture to encourage start up, expansion or scale up of these businesses where this involves converting farm buildings into other commercial or business uses.

1. Create jobs and boost community cohesion.

2. Increase private sector investment in growth-enhancing activities, through targeted support for small and medium-sized businesses to:

  • undertake innovation
  • adopt productivity enhancing, energy efficient and low carbon technologies and techniques.

1. Number of businesses supported.

2. Number of farm businesses supported.

3. Number of farm diversification projects supported.

4.Number of micro businesses supported.

1. Jobs created.

2. Jobs safeguarded.

3. Number of new businesses created.

4. Number of businesses adopting new to the firm technologies or processes.

4. Number of businesses with improved productivity.

5. Number of businesses experiencing growth.

Example projects

1. Creation and expansion of rural leisure and tourism businesses. For example:

  • creating event venues or farm tourism facilities such as accommodation, wedding venues and leisure facilities
  • provision of facilities for pet and equines such as kennels, livery and pet health venues
  • funding for resilience infrastructure and nature-based solutions that protect local businesses and community areas from natural hazards including flooding and coastal erosion

2. Purchase of equipment for food processing for non-farmer-owned businesses. For example:

  • purchasing new process and packaging machinery such as brewing equipment and onsite vending machines
  • equipping development kitchens or modernising existing kitchen equipment for increased energy efficiency or increased productivity through automation

Funding for the development and promotion of the visitor economy

 

Intervention

Objectives

Indicative outputs

Indicative outcomes

Funding for developing and promoting the visitor economy

This includes development and promotion (both trade and consumer) of:

  • local attractions
  • trails
  • tourism products more generally

1.Create jobs and boost community cohesion.

2. Enhance rural visitor economy and rural leisure opportunities.

 

 

 

1. Number of businesses supported.

2. Number of visitor experiences supported.

3. Number of farm businesses supported.

4. Number of micro businesses supported.

1. Jobs created.

2. Jobs safeguarded.

3. Number of new businesses created.

4. Number of businesses increasing their turnover.

 

Example projects

1. Development of local visitor trails and infrastructure to support this, such as:

  •  information boards
  •  visitor centres

2. Grants for the development of local tourist attractions.

3. Development of local visitor experiences based on the local offer

Supporting rural communities

Funding for active travel enhancements in the local area

 

Intervention

Objectives

Indicative outputs

Indicative outcomes

Funding for active travel enhancements in the local area

 

1. Strengthen our social fabric and foster a sense of local pride and belonging through investment in activities that enhance physical, cultural and social ties and amenities.

1. Amount of new or improved cycleways or paths

2. Number of facilities supported or created

 

1. Increased use of cycleways or paths.

2. Improved perception of facilities or amenities.

Example projects

1. Upgrading of existing footpaths and cycle paths, particularly in areas of health need.

Who can apply for REPF?

Any rural organisation with legal status can apply for REPF.  This may include local authorities, public sector organisations, higher and further education institutions, private sector companies, voluntary organisations and registered charities.  Grants must be for business and community purposes. 

There is a specific exclusion for REPF funding that it cannot be used to support projects that have received funding from other DEFRA schemes, including the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme, the Farming Investment Fund or the Platinum Jubilee Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund.

Read the REPF Prospectus for further information on Rural England Prosperity Funding.

Funding available

Intervention Year 1 (approx. £138k) Year 2 (approx. £414k)
Business Investment

£80k 

(up to £20k per grant)

£120k

(up to £20k per grant)

Visitor Economy

£58k

(up to £2k per grant)

(up to £5k per grant)

£95k

(up to £10k per grant)

(up to £5k per grant)

Active Travel

£0

Grant applications will be open from Year 1 to allow permissions to be sought and planning undertaken ready for award in year 2

£200k

(up to £25k per grant)

How to apply for funding

You can make an application at any time, although they will only be considered at the monthly meeting of the REPF Grant Panel.

To ensure an application is considered please submit your application two weeks before the date of the meeting.

The Mayor of Bedford Borough may consider urgent applications at other times where it is considered appropriate.

Meeting dates

(Dates may be subject to review)

10 June 2024

8 July 2024

12 August 2024

9 September 2024

14 October 2024

11 November 2024

The Council reserves the right to close the application process early if there is a high demand. We cannot accept late or incomplete applications. We would encourage you to submit your application as early as possible if you have all of the required information for your application.  

If you need any further information please email bedfordukspf@bedford.gov.uk 

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