Applying for RDPE Growth Programme government funding
Back in November, DEFRA announced £35 million in funding for rural businesses who want to grow and diversify. However, the window to express interest is very short (expressions of interest close 16 February 2020) so here are our top tips on getting your application in on time and getting it right.
1. Start your application early
Allowing time to plan the development and fully complete the necessary information into the EOI application can be a time-consuming process. Varying bits of information are required such as farm and business details, sources of funding, project costs and details, as well as the projected outcomes from the project and justification for the development.
Starting early is key as it always takes longer than thought to complete the paperwork.
2. Seek professional advice
Utilising professional advice can help to streamline thought processes, ideas and condense this into a structured application.
3. Focus your application so it meets the criteria
Funding is awarded based on how well the application fits into the aims and targets of the grant. The RDPE Growth Programme’s aim is to increase jobs and create growth within the rural community.
Showing that an application meets these requirements is fundamental in achieving success. Applications that fulfil this are seen as good value for money by not only helping the recipient of the grant but also the wider rural community.
4. Make sure you are eligible
Ensuring your business is eligible for the grant ensures no time and effort is wasted in submitting an application. It is a good idea to make contact with your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) contact to sense check the idea with them in the first instance.
The RDPE Growth Programme is for:
“Small and micro-businesses (and farmers who are diversifying) are eligible to apply, and your project must be in a rural area.”
The programme is split into three areas to cover a wide range of farm business:
- Food processing
- Business Development
- Rural tourism infrastructure
The varied sections allow for a large variety of applications from many areas of agriculture and food processing.
5. Plan your application and know your dates
Ensure applications are submitted correctly and on time with all the necessary information included. Applications submitted late or partially fulfilled are rarely taken forward. Remember the deadline to submit an expression of interest for an RDPE growth Programme Grant is 16 February 2020. All successful projects must be completed by 30 September 2021.
6. Understand how the grant process works
Once your expression of interest is submitted, it will be assessed by the Rural Payment Agency (RPA). The RPA will aim to get back to you within 30 days. If successful, you will be asked to submit a full application. Your full application may take two or three months to complete so allow yourself time to do this (it may take longer if the project needs planning permission).
If your full application is approved, you sign the grant funding agreement and begin your project.
7. Know your project costs
Having an idea of how much the project will cost allows financial planning to begin and the economic feasibility of the development to be assessed. Getting at least three quotes for potential work to be undertaken will speed up the application process if your expression of interest is successful.
8. Talk to your bank manager
The application you are submitting may fulfil all of the targets set out in the grant and be fully approved. However, a minimum of 40% of the project cost will be grant-aided, leaving 60% to fund.
Getting your bank manager involved early allows time for funds to be brought into place and secured, ensuring no time is wasted trying to source funding if successful. Also, bank managers do not like surprises! Talking to them early and discussing ideas proves to be the most successful way to begin.