Defra announce £110m fund to level up the countryside

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have announced a £110m Rural England Prosperity Fund that will help support communities in the UK countryside.

The funding will be invested in initiatives that improve productivity, create rural job opportunities, and boost prosperity. Such investment could be ringfenced for farm businesses looking to expand by opening a farm shop, wedding venues, tourism facilities, as well as renovations for pubs, village halls and other rural hubs vital in their local communities.

The investment will be in addition to the 2.6bn provided through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to further back levelling up efforts in the UK.

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.”

The Government say via the Delivering for Rural England report that rural interests will be at the heart of all government approaches to levelling up and this funding will give local leaders more say over investment than they had whilst beholden to EU laws.

The report also details how the Government is working to narrow and close the productivity gap in rural areas, which has dropped from 90% of the English average to 83% in 2019.

The Government say that the funding provided through the Rural England Prosperity Fund, the UKSPF, and the Food Strategy and Agricultural Transition Plan will unlock billions of pounds worth of investment in the coming years.

Lord Benyon, Minister for Rural Affairs, said: “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 £110m recognises the unique strengths and challenges of rural communities, and will support them to invest and grow their economies in line with local priorities.”

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