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£1.4 million windfall for the New Forest's small rural businesses

Issued 12 March 2015

European Union LEADER Grant Funding of almost £1.4 million has been allocated to support the development of small businesses and not-for-profit groups in the rural parts of the New Forest and surrounding areas over the next 5 years. The Grant Fund will be independently managed by a New Forest Local Action Group (LAG) working in partnership with New Forest District Council.

Eligible rural-based businesses and not-for-profit organisations in the New Forest LEADER area will soon be able to apply for a share of the money.  Successful applicants could receive grants ranging from £2,500 to £50,000, but recipients will be required to provide their own match funding of between 30-60% of the total cost of each project.

The funding will support a wide range of investments to help farming and forestry businesses to expand, improve their productivity or diversify, as well as grants to enable small enterprises in rural areas to start-up and grow. There will also be support for projects which provide services to the New Forest's rural communities.

Gerald Lewis, Chairman of the New Forest Local Action Group, said: "I am very pleased to hear the announcement of the grant award for the New Forest. The new LEADER scheme will provide an invaluable opportunity for small businesses and not for profit groups to benefit from inward investment to help their enterprises to grow and make a greater contribution to the local rural economy. This will, in turn, lead to the creation of new jobs and wider opportunities for local people".

LEADER funds are distributed via Defra (Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) directly to the Local Action Groups, whose role is to assess grant applications and ensure that the money will be used to meet agreed local needs and priorities. Membership of the LAG is drawn from a wide range of local organisations representing the business and farming communities, statutory bodies and the voluntary sector.

LEADER funding will be available in the New Forest from 2015 - 2020. For further information visit newforestleader.org.uk  or contact Sally Igra, LEADER Programme Manager on 023 8028 5588

LEADER funding in the New Forest

The New Forest has benefitted from LEADER funding before. The 2008-2013 programme awarded grants worth £1.4 million to support the development of 49 small local businesses and improvements to 29 village halls and shops. LEADER grant funded businesses went on to create 23 new jobs and safeguard over 190.  This was particularly important in an area which has a very high proportion of small businesses during a period when it was increasingly difficult for them to obtain commercial business loans.  Many of these businesses in turn spent their grant locally, helping to sustain other businesses within the supply-chain - and it was estimated that every £1 of grant invested triggered a further £1.50 of private sector investment.

Published: 12 Mar 2015
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