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Rural businesses in West Berkshire encouraged to apply for council funding

Rural businesses in West Berkshire are being encouraged to apply for funding from the council.

Cash to support capital initiatives is coming from the Government’s levelling up scheme.

West Berkshire Council is encouraging businesses to apply for rural grants
West Berkshire Council is encouraging businesses to apply for rural grants

West Berkshire has been awarded £597,994 with half of the allocation (£297,994) to be distributed across rural areas as part of the scheme.

The funding will be allocated over two financial years, with £99,498 being provided in 2023/2024, and a further £198,495 in 2024/2025.

The business grants will range between £10,000 to £40,000 and will be awarded to businesses on a rolling basis over the lifetime of the scheme.

The main aim of the business grant is to stimulate economic growth within West Berkshire’s rural economy, by encouraging small businesses to invest in diversification ventures, sustainable energy, new production methods, and the conversion of derelict farm buildings for commercial use.

Successful projects should help to improve the long-term sustainability and resilience of the rural economy, and this will in turn help maintain the vibrancy and viability of our rural communities.

Some types of projects that are eligible for the fund are the conversion of derelict farm buildings to new commercial uses, net-zero initiatives for rural businesses, agritourism, and the purchase of equipment to diversify outside of traditional agriculture.

Martin Colston, (Lib Dem, Newbury Central), executive member for regeneration, growth and strategy development, said: “This is an excellent chance to invest in and stimulate private sector growth amongst our small rural businesses.

“West Berkshire’s rural communities are a key part of our district’s identity, culture, and economy.

“Ensuring their long-term viability is crucial to the prosperity of the entire district.

“That’s why we’re offering funding to support our small rural business to diversify or to fund projects outside conventional agriculture.”

Guidance on applying for the REPF business grant scheme can be found on the council’s website: https://www.westberks.gov.uk/repfgrantscheme

The scheme will be running from now until March 2025, with funding awarded on a rolling basis over this period.

However, businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

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