Farming businesses across the UK could benefit from up to £110 million of funding which looks to support countryside communities.
The funding is set to be invested into projects that will improve productivity and create rural jobs, such as expanding farm businesses by opening up a farm shop.
Delivered by local authorities, the investment from the Rural England Prosperity Fund could be seen in the form of grants for projects such as converting farm buildings into other business uses and looks to give local leaders a greater say in what the money can be used for.
Other uses of the funding include investments into visitor accommodation to increase rural tourism, grants to create hubs such as village halls, pubs and post offices, grants to develop, restore or refurbish local natural heritage sites and creating new foot and cycle paths.
This funding acts as a rural top-up for eligible local authorities to the £2.6 billion used to support levelling up across the UK from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
It comes as the government looks to close the productivity gap for rural areas with 85% of England’s land mass being rural and home to 17% of the population, as well as the rural economy being worth £260 billion to the economy.
“This major investment in rural businesses will help us boost the countryside economy and close the rural productivity gap,” Secretary of State for levelling up, MP Greg Clark said.
“It’s our mission to spread opportunity across the whole of the UK and this funding will help us do just that.”
Minister for rural affairs, Lord Benyon added: “We are addressing the rural productivity gap, levelling-up opportunities and outcomes, and looking after the rural areas and countryside that so many of us are proud to call home.
“The Rural England Prosperity Fund worth up to £110 million recognises the unique strengths and challenges of rural communities, and will support them to invest and grow their economies in line with local priorities.”