Rural issues in the spotlight at Westminster

BRIGG MP Andrew Percy is encouraging local businesses to apply for £60 million in Government grants to increase the strength and competitiveness of rural enterprise.

The funding has been made available via the establishment of the Rural Economy Grant.

Grants ranging from £25,000 to £1 million are available to support businesses focused on farm competitiveness, agri-food, tourism, forestry and micro enterprise.

In a letter to colleagues, the Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, indicated the Government’s commitment to rural development.

She also made it clear that this initiative is part of a broader £165 million package to unlock the economic potential of rural areas.

Mr Percy, said: “These grants are proof that this Government understands and is willing to invest in rural interests.

“I have long campaigned on behalf of our rural communities who contribute a great deal to the economy. We must do more to support them in these difficult economic times, which is why I am always arguing for a fairer share of funding for rural areas.

“Forty per cent of the costs of projects can be covered by this grant, and that will go a long way towards helping many rural businesses to remain competitive.”

He added: “I’m glad we have strengthened the rural voice in Government after years of neglect, but I am determined to see the base formulas used for general government grants changed to reflect rural need too.

“This inititiative, combined with others such as the extra funding for Post Offices and the scrapping of Labour’s Post Office closure scheme, are a good start in doing more for our rural communities.”

Applications for the Rural Economy Grant are currently being accepted and further information is available at: http://rdpenetwork.defra.gov.uk/funding-sources/rural-economy-grant .