Defra has released a new wave of pre-Brexit grant schemes to help rural areas in England get connected to superfast broadband and to help farmers invest in new equipment.
The CLA which represents, farmers, landowners and other rural businesses has welcomed the initiatives. The schemes are funded from money allocated to rural economic development under the Common Agricultural Policy and will be made available for grant applications administered by the Rural Payments Agency.
CLA Senior Rural Business Advisor Dr Charles Trotman said: “These grants are the right thing at the right time. With Brexit around the corner, businesses need to be thinking about ways to make investments that will help them to harness opportunities in a changing market.
“For some, especially in farming, upgrading equipment and processes to drive efficiency, reduce costs and increase standards will be the key. For others, the opportunity to diversify and add new income to the business will be vital.
“However, businesses must be made aware of the opportunities available to them and ensure there is sufficient time and guidance in how to navigate the application process. A number of well-intentioned grant schemes have not had the desired effect because of weaknesses in how they are promoted and delivered. The CLA has a big role to play in helping businesses with this.”
On the broadband fund Dr Trotman commented: “Getting superfast connections to our most remote communities is a vitally important but expensive and complex task. Targeted support will help with this but the key is to mobilise communities which could benefit from this to work together to enable the best possible connections.”