Rural England Prosperity Fund
The Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) supports capital projects that improve productivity and strengthen rural economies and communities.
Specifically, the fund aims to:
- support new and existing rural businesses to develop new products and facilities that will benefit 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
The REPF has given us £400,000 to deliver projects across a two-year period. In 2023/24, £100,000 will be available, with the remaining £300,000 of the Fund available in 2024/25.
You can apply for funding for capital projects up to the value of £10,000, which you must spend in the financial year 2023/24.
Your application must have at least 20% of match funding in place. We may accept applications that do not have 20% match funding, but only for community projects and for exceptional circumstances.
In these cases, you need to contact the Economic Development Team before applying so we can discuss this with you further.
You can only apply if you are a legally recognised organisation, such as a:
- public sector organisation
- higher and further education institution
- private sector company
- voluntary organisation
- registered charity
Your organisation should have a bank account with at least two signatories.
If you are an individual, you cannot apply for this funding.
Type of spend
REPF funds capital projects only. This means you must spend the money on buying or improving assets that have a useful life of over 12 months, such as a building or equipment.
Not all locations within the Chelmsford local authority area are eligible for this fund. Projects are only eligible if they are in a rural area. For REPF purposes, rural areas are:
- towns, villages and hamlets with populations below 10,000
- 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 check if your project is in an eligible area, you need to view the Eligibility Map and:
- go to the ‘Table of Contents’, then expand ‘Administrative Geographies’ > ‘Other Administrative Boundaries’ > select ‘Rural England Prosperity Fund’
- search for a location either by entering a postcode or zooming in on a location
- use the icons toolbar at the top of the application, selecting the ‘Identify’ icon and clicking on the location of your project on the map. A pop-up box will appear telling you if the area is eligible
If you are not sure if your project falls within an eligible area, you can contact the Economic Development Team for advice.
If your projects has received funding from other Defra schemes, you will not be eligible for funding from REPF. This includes:
- the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme
- the Farming Investment Fund
- the Platinum Jubilee Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund
Other eligibility criteria
You will not be eligible if the project:
- is a statutory duty
- has already happened
- promotes a particular religious or political belief
Projects must meet the aims of REPF and be seeking capital grant funding for:
- small scale investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas
- growing the local social economy and supporting innovation
- developing and promoting the visitor economy
- investment in capacity building and infrastructure support for local civil society and community groups
- creation and improvements to local rural green spaces
- existing cultural, historic and heritage institutions that make up the local cultural heritage offer
- local arts, cultural, heritage and creative activities
- active travel enhancements in the local area
- rural circular economy projects
- impactful volunteering and social action projects
You can also view a list of examples of the types of projects which are eligible for grant funding from REPF.
Investment Priority 1: Supporting Rural Businesses
1.1: Capital grant funding for small scale investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas
- Creation and expansion of rural leisure and tourism businesses. E.g., creating event venues or farm tourism facilities such as accommodation, wedding venues and leisure facilities.
- Purchase of equipment for food processing for non-farmer-owned businesses. E.g., 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.
- Funding for resilience infrastructure and nature-based solution that protect local businesses and community areas from natural hazards including flooding.
1.2: Capital grant for growing the local social economy and supporting innovation
- Creation of multifunctional rural business hubs providing shared workspace and networking opportunities for rural businesses. E.g., creating flexible access to commercial kitchens, co-working spaces and business infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging points.
- Establishment of rural community businesses. E.g., community-owned shops, equipment to support the showcasing of local food and drink products such as regional information display boards.
1.3: Capital grant funding for developing and promoting the visitor economy
- Development of local visitor trails and infrastructure to support this such as information boards or visitor centres.
- Grants for the development of local tourist attractions
- Development of local visitor experiences based on the local offer.
Investment Priority 2: Supporting Rural Communities
2.2: Capital grant funding for investment in capacity building and infrastructure support for local civil society and community groups
- Capital grants for provision of net zero infrastructure for rural communities and to support rural tourism activity. E.g., EV charging points, community energy schemes, such as scaled up biomass, heat pumps or solar.
- Capital grants for kitchens in community hubs which can support food and drink entrepreneurs get accreditation for food production.
- Funding for resilience infrastructure and nature-based solutions that protect local businesses and community areas from natural hazards including flooding.
2.3: Capital grant funding for creation and improvements to local rural green spaces
- Capital grants to establish or enhance rural green and blue infrastructure including community gardens, green spaces, watercourses, and embankments, greening of streets and paths, or incorporating natural features into wider public spaces.
2.4: Capital grant funding for existing cultural, historic and heritage institutions that make up the local cultural heritage offer
- Capital grants to develop, restore or refurbish local natural, cultural and heritage assets and sites.
- Capital grants to improve visitor experience and accessibility of these assets. E.g., by creating wheelchair accessible and step free access that goes beyond statutory requirements, by providing all terrain wheelchairs allowing access to new areas of sites
2.5: Capital grant funding for local arts, cultural, heritage and creative activities
- Capital grants for provision of maker spaces
- Capital grants for local art galleries, museums and libraries for altering premises or providing spaces for exhibitions to support displays for artists to showcase work.
- Capital grants to enable cultural, heritage and creative events and provision of venues for locally-led: music and theatre performances, tours, author events, film screenings.
2.6: Capital grant funding for active travel enhancements in the local area
- Creation of new or upgrading of existing footpaths and cycle paths, particularly in areas of health need.
2.7: Capital grant funding for rural circular economy projects
- Capital grants to enable setting up or enhancing rural community-led repair cafes or mend workshops. This includes grants for providing premises and tools/equipment.
2.8: Capital grant funding for impactful volunteering and social action projects
- Capital grants to enable people to develop volunteering and social action projects locally. E.g., purchase of equipment, improvements to premises to enable local volunteering groups such as youth charities, carers groups or support groups.
You need to submit your bid for funding by 11.59pm on Friday 29 September 2023.
If we still have funding available after the first call for projects, we will reopen submissions for year 1 funding (2023/24). We will announce the timetable for year 2 (2024/25) applications in due course.