What is the Rural Prosperity Fund?
The Rural Prosperity Fund supports the aims of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper and Future Farming Programme.
The fund supports capital projects for small businesses and community infrastructure which will improve productivity and strengthen the rural economy and rural communities.
The rural fund provides 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.
- support new and improved community infrastructure, providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.
We’ve been allocated £589,191 from the Government’s Rural Prosperity Fund for projects brought to fruition within a two-year period.
We have an allocation of £147,297 for 2023/24 and £441,893 for 2024/25.
This rural fund is a top-up to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and is a central pillar of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda. The Shared Prosperity Fund provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025 and the Rural England Prosperity Fund provides an additional £110 million of funding for investment within rural communities across England.
The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.
Which organisations can the fund support?
Any organisation with legal status within rural areas can get funding. The list includes, but is not limited to:
- public sector organisations such as town and parish councils
- higher and further education institutions
- small and medium sized businesses
- voluntary organisations
- registered charities
Which projects are eligible?
Organisations must use the funding for capital projects. This means you must spend grants on lasting assets such as a building or equipment. Grants must be for business or community purposes.
- use grants to fund domestic property improvements or to buy private vehicles.
- spend grants on revenue costs such as running costs or promotional activities.
- spend grants to pay for projects which have already started or projects which are already complete.
How much money is available?
Grants between £10,000 and £50,000 are available for the execution of capital projects in rural areas.
If you are a business applying for the business grant you must show that you are contributing at least £10,000 to the project.
Organisations such as: charities, voluntary organisations or councils will not be required to match funds.
Projects must be finished and invoiced before 31 March 2025 and grants can only be paid once the project is complete.
Which areas are eligible?
Projects must be in a rural area. For rural fund 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
All locations within our district fall into these two categories, except for urban parts of Braintree and Bocking.
The locations surrounding Braintree, such as Rayne, Great Notley, Panfield and Cressing are eligible along with all other locations across the district.
You can check whether your area is eligible by using this mapping tool.
What support is available for rural business?
1.) Capital grants for small scale investment in micro and small enterprises, including:
- capital funding for net-zero infrastructure
- diversification of farm businesses outside of agriculture to encourage start up, expansion or scale up where this involves converting farm buildings into other business uses
Example 1: Creation and expansion of rural leisure and tourism businesses, including:
- 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
Example 2: Purchase of equipment for food processing for non-farmer-owned businesses, including:
- 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
Example 3: Funding for resilience infrastructure and nature-based solutions that protect local businesses and community areas from natural hazards, including flooding and coastal erosion
2.) Capital grants for growing the local social economy and supporting innovation, including:
- community businesses
- cooperatives and social enterprises
- research and development sites
Example 1: Creation of multi-functional rural business hubs providing shared workspace and networking opportunities for rural businesses, for example:
- flexible access to commercial kitchens
- co-working spaces
- business infrastructure such as broadband and electric vehicle (EV) charging points
Example 2: Establishment of rural community businesses, for example:
- community-owned shops (for example provision of premises).
- equipment to support the showcasing of local food and drink products, such as regional information display boards
What support is available for rural communities?
1.) Capital grants for investment in capacity building and infrastructure support for local civil society and community groups
Example 1: Capital grants for provision of net zero infrastructure for rural communities and to support rural tourism activity, for example:
- EV charging points
- community energy schemes such as scaled up biomass, heat pumps or solar
Example 2: Capital grants for kitchens in community hubs which are capable of supporting food and drink entrepreneurs to get accreditation for food production.
Example 3: Funding for resilience infrastructure and nature-based solutions that protect local businesses and community areas from natural hazards, including flooding and coastal erosion.
2.) Capital grants for creation of and improvements to local rural green spaces
Example 1: Capital grants to establish or enhance rural green and blue infrastructure including:
- community gardens
- green spaces
- watercourses and embankments greening of streets and paths
- incorporating natural features into wider public spaces
3.) Capital grants for existing cultural, historic and heritage institutions that make up the local cultural heritage offer
Example 1: Capital grants to develop, restore or refurbish local natural, cultural and heritage assets and sites.
Example 2: Improving visitor experience and accessibility of natural, cultural and heritage assets by:
- creating wheelchair accessible and step free access that goes beyond statutory requirements
- providing all terrain wheelchairs allowing access to new areas of sites
4.) Capital grants for local arts, cultural, heritage and creative activities
Example 1: Funding for provision of maker spaces.
Example 2: Funding for local art galleries, museums and libraries for altering premises or providing spaces for exhibitions to support displays for artists to showcase work.
Example 3: Capital grants to enable cultural, heritage and creative events and provision of venues for locally-led: music and theatre performances, tours, author events and film screenings.
5.) Capital grants for rural circular economy projects
Example 1: Capital grants to enable setting up or enhancement of rural community-led repair cafes or mend workshops, including: provision of premises and tools or equipment to support.
6.) Capital grants for impactful volunteering and social action projects to develop social and human capital in local places
Example 1: Capital grants to enable people to develop volunteering and social action projects locally, such as:
- purchase of equipment
- improvements to premises to enable local volunteering groups such as youth charities, carers groups or refugee support groups
Which projects can the fund not support?
We cannot support projects that have received funding from other Defra schemes, including:
The Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme - funding for farmers and land managers to work in partnership with National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty bodies
The Farming Investment Fund - grants to improve productivity and bring environmental benefits
The Platinum Jubilee Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund - grant funding over 3 years (to 2025) to support capital improvement projects for village halls, covering extending buildings and modernising facilities
How can my organisation apply for this grant?
Applicants must complete and return an application form.
Before applying make sure you read the eligibility criteria.
Apply for a share of the rural prosperity fund:
If you have further questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org