New Forest farmers, foresters and rural businesses are already benefiting from a £1.4 million EU grant scheme.

The EU’s LEADER programme aims to support economic growth and encourage job creation in rural areas – including most of the New Forest and its surrounding rural parishes in southern Test Valley and southern Wiltshire.

LEADER grants – ranging in value from £2,500 to £50,000 – can be used to fund up to 40% of investment in certain types machinery, equipment and buildings, with successful applicants being required to provide their own match funding for the balance of each project’s costs. The investment must enable the business (including ‘not for profit’) to grow and/or create jobs. Applications must be submitted and approved before the items can be purchased.

The New Forest LEADER Local Action Group, in partnership with New Forest District Council and other local authorities, has recently awarded a £45k ‘LEADER’ grant to Tiptoe-based wholesale nursery and horticultural artists, Agrumi Ltd, who also makes bespoke topiary structures. The workshop will provide the business with the room to grow the topiary sales and to create an additional two full time jobs, benefitting the wider New Forest economy.

The Government has now confirmed that UK businesses will continue to benefit from European-funded programmes until the UK formally leaves the EU. This means that farmers, foresters and small rural businesses in the New Forest LEADER area still can take advantage of the LEADER grant scheme but they will be available for a shorter period than originally planned.

The LEADER grant budget is an ever-diminishing pot; so if you are running or starting-up a business in a rural area and are looking to invest in certain types of equipment, machinery or buildings – don’t delay, visit our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk for information on what we can fund and how to applyThere is also a map showing the areas eligible for LEADER funding.

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