Funding to support rural businesses and communities is being sought by Wealden District Council through the Rural England Prosperity Fund.
Wealden District Council proposes to administer and manage a business grants programme so rural businesses can apply for capital funding for projects which lead to job safeguarding, increased productivity and modernisation.
This might include the purchase of equipment and lasting assets or the conversion of buildings and business grants.
A small allocation of funds could also go towards supporting rural tourism by developing- a Wealden Visitor Trail.
Once funding is confirmed, town and parish councils and community organisations will be invited to apply for grants in support of projects that support net zero and infrastructure which improves the natural environment such as ‘greening up’ outside space, wildflower verges and active travel initiatives.
This includes improving local resilience against the impacts of climate change and encouraging residents to walk and cycle more. In addition, some funding could be allocated to the roll-out of new electric vehicle charging points across Wealden.
The council has recently submitted information to the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs in order to secure the £838,120 of capital funding – allocated through the Rural England Prosperity Fund over a two year period starting from 1 April 2023.
The fund is a new £110million, two year capital fund from DEFRA complementary to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund run by the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities. It is a top up for eligible authorities which have already submitted an investment plan for UKSPF, to address the extra needs of rural areas.
The fund aims to address three key challenges that rural areas face; lower productivity rates; poorer connectivity and poorer access to key services.
The fund will support rural businesses and support new and improved community infrastructure, providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.
The council expects to hear whether the submission has been successful by early next year.
Council Philip Lunn, Wealden council’s lead member for Commercial, Economic Development and Leisure, said, “This additional funding will help underpin our ambition and determination to support our rural communities across the Wealden district as well as helping businesses invest in environmentally beneficial technology and boost our tourism economy.”
Business and other interested organisations wanting details can contact the Economic Development and Wellbeing team on firstname.lastname@example.org