Tourism, helping farms diversify and supporting smaller businesses to grow are just some of the aims Fenland District Council’s cabinet is set to agree when it comes to a new government grant.
Fenland is set to receive £436,000 over two years from the government’s Rural England Shared Prosperity Fund (REPF) – and it has to be spent on business or community purposes and specifically on capital projects such as buildings and equipment.
The district council’s cabinet is set to agree to accept the money, which will be paid via the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
This year our area will receive £109,000 and in 2024/25 the amount will be £327,000. The government has allocated a total of £3.2m to be split between four of Cambridgeshire’s districts.
A report to Monday’s cabinet meeting explains a key objective of the REPF cash is to enable smaller businesses to grow locally investing entrepreneurship to unlock barriers to growth through grants for equipment and premises.
The report explains the funding will also help rural areas where the government knows there is increasing austerity and declining prosperity.
The prospectus for REPF and the opportunities it offers also points to investing in farm businesses looking to diversify income streams creating and sustaining rural jobs .
It also wants to help economic growth in tourism, food and farming businesses.
The money can be invested to support new and improved community infrastruture providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.
This, says the report, adds value to government aspirations through supporting community-led business and innovation that often fill gaps when market failure occurs, using volunteers and innovative approaches to support the delivery of vital rural services and to benefit the local economy.
The money can also be used to improve and widen the use of rural community buildings including village halls, including fast tracking modernisation towards Net Zero targets and making their running costs more affordble.
A further report will be presented to Fenland’s cabinet for approval of the detailed proposals in relation to the projects chosen, which will be shaped by consultation with partners such as Cambridgeshire ACRE.