Grants for rural businesses

July 27, 2017 9:47 am

There are predominantly two sources of funding specifically for rural businesses in Ashfield and Mansfield: LEADER and RDPE.  Indeed they are funded from similar sources and both are intended to support growth in the rural economy.  Find out what areas are covered and which businesses and projects are eligible.


In summary, there are two LEADER funding programmes operational in the rural parts of Ashfield and Mansfield.  In total, £3.4m of funding is available across Nottinghamshire until March 2019.  The LEADER programme is targeted grant funding support for businesses and organisations in rural areas, as follows:

  • North Notts LEADER includes rural parts of Mansfield District.
  • South Notts LEADER includes rural parts of Ashfield District.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  1. The project has to be located within the rural LEADER programme area.  Although the applicant may be based outside.  For example, a business in Mansfield town centre is not in the LEADER area but may have a project located within the LEADER area.  Talk to the LEADER Programme Officer to confirm, or enter the project’s postcode on the eligibility checkers.
  2. To apply businesses usually need to be a Micro or Small Enterprise.  However, larger businesses and organisations can apply under certain Priorities e.g. Tourism or Rural Services.  Talk to the LEADER Programme Officer to confirm, or download the Applicant’s Handbook.
  3. Funding is for capital projects only, not revenue.  For example, this would cover equipment and buildings and the development of bespoke software.  Moreover, the project needs to be focused on economic growth and LEADER will not fund replacements.  While creation of new jobs is encouraged, it is recognised that not all projects will create new jobs.  Again talk to the LEADER Programme Officer to confirm, or download the Applicant’s Handbook to check eligibility of project costs.
  4. The maximum contribution for commercial projects is 40% of eligible project costs, with grants ranging from £5,000 to £170,000.  However, the maximum contribution could be up to 100% of eligible project costs.  This is true where the project will not generate income, e.g. cycle paths, visitor information centres, or small-scale village infrastructure projects.  Again talk to the LEADER Programme Officer to confirm, or download the Applicant’s Handbook to check eligibility of project costs.

Rural Ashfield

The rural parts of the Ashfield District are covered by the South Notts programme.  To find out more, contact Craig Edson on 0115 977 2686 or visit the website.  Check eligibility for South Nottinghamshire.   Download the Applicant’s Handbook for South Nottinghamshire.

Rural Mansfield

The rural parts of the Mansfield District are covered by the North Notts programme.  To find out more, contact Jim Burley on 0115 993 9337 or visit the websiteCheck eligibility for North Nottinghamshire Download the Applicant’s Handbook for North Nottinghamshire.

RDPE Growth Programme

In January 2017 Defra launched £120 million of RDPE Growth Programme funding through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).  Calls are currently open, inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) applications for Tourism Infrastructure, Food Processing, and Business Development projects.  The funding is intended to create jobs and growth in the rural economy.

Details of the eligible activities and who can apply are in three applicant handbooks available to download here.  Defra’s Rural payments Agency (RPA) delivers the grants, working with the ESIF sub-committees in Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) areas across England.

Each ESIF Sub-Committee has identified how much of its allocation of EAFRD funding it wishes to assign to each of the three National Calls, reflecting the local investment priorities to support jobs and growth in their area.  The calls remain open until January 2018, subject to the availability of funds.

Find out more about the RDPE Growth Programme on the Defra rural services helpline 03000 200 301 (choose the Rural Development option) Alternatively, email their dedicated enquiries service or search for ‘RDPE Growth’ on GOV.UK.

Which one to choose?

If you would like to pursue this further but unsure which avenue to take, here’s a recap of the main differences:

  • LEADER is open now to receive Expressions of Interest across all priorities, and will remain open until March 2019.  The minimum grant is £5,000.
  • The RDPE Growth Programme is open for targeted priorities only and closes for EOIs in January 2018.  The minimum grant in the D2N2 area is £35,000 for Business Support and £50,000 for Tourism and Food Processing, respectively.

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