£110m fund to level up rural communities unveiled

To help local leaders invest in their communities and reduce inequalities across the UK, the government has announced a new Rural England Prosperity Fund worth up to £110 million.

This fund will be delivered by eligible local authorities and give local leaders a greater say in investment than they previously had under EU schemes. It will be in addition to the £2.6 billion allocated via the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to support levelling up across the UK. The fund is a rural top-up for eligible local authorities.

The funding will be invested in projects which will boost productivity and create rural job opportunities. These could include farming businesses looking to diversify by opening a farm shop, wedding venue or tourism facilities or improvements to village halls, pubs and other rural hubs for community uses.

Investment will be based on local priorities and support investment in projects such as grants for:

  • converting farm buildings to other business uses
  • rural tourism, such as investments in visitor accommodation
  • capital grants for provision of gigabit-capable digital infrastructure at hubs such as village halls, pubs and post offices for community use
  • capital grants to develop, restore or refurbish local natural, cultural and heritage assets and sites
  • creation of new footpaths and cycle paths, particularly in areas of health need, or capital grants to enable people to develop volunteering and social action projects locally

Welcoming the announcement, local MP for Barrow and Furness, Simon Fell said:

“I’m thrilled to see that the Government has listened to the concerns of our rural communities and is increasing investment into them. This is excellent news, and further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to levelling up communities like Furness.

“I’ve been working across Government to make the case for our farmers, pubs, and the many rural hubs we have to be front and centre of the levelling up agenda.

“I look forward to working collaboratively with Barrow Borough Council, SLDC, and Cumbria County Council to ensure that this money is targeted to where it’s needed most.”

Commenting, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Greg Clark MP said:

“This major investment in rural businesses will help us boost the countryside economy and close the rural productivity gap.

“It’s our mission to spread opportunity across the whole of the UK and this funding will help us do just that.”

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