Rural Community Services

Rural Community Services

About this Grant Programme

The Rural Community Services grant programme has been set up to help rural communities develop initiatives to alleviate some of the difficulties they face, particularly the lack of access to services and the provision of infrastructure. Projects should make a contribution to growing the local economy and could include development of community buildings, public spaces, or cultural and tourism amenities.

Grants are available for between £2,500 and £25,000.  20% match funding required. Nb in exceptional circumstances, we may omit a requirement for match funding if there is added value to the wider local economy. Commercial (profit making) projects will require 60% match funding.

Examples of the types of projects we could fund include;

  • Setting up, improving or expansion of essential rural services for the local community
  • Small-scale village infrastructure projects, including amenity buildings and village access, e.g roads and footpaths
  • Community renewable energy production and distribution networks
  • Development of village services
  • Creation, improvement or expansion of all types of small scale infrastructure.
  • Projects that involve visits to farms for educational purposes, so that the public has a greater understanding of the countryside and rural areas
  • Developing access to key services that may include tourism projects that increase services that may benefit the local community and contribute to village renewal.
  • Feasibility studies for renewable energy projects
  • The purchase of new machinery and equipment
  • Technical support
  • General costs such as architect, engineer and consultants fees up to a maximum of 15% of total project costs.

Outcomes we expect you to achieve

Below is a list of the sort of outcomes we would hope to see projects achieve. Projects are not expected to deliver on all outcomes, this list provides a form of guidance to applicants. It sets out what makes a project more desirable. A project may only deliver on one outcome, but that may be to such a degree that it outweighs the need to deliver on others. For example, one project may create many jobs, but deliver no further outcomes. Please bear in mind that LEADER is a grant programme that aims to boost the rural economy, therefore job creation and growth are of significant importance. If this is not a direct benefit to the applicant, it should be a benefit to other businesses and the wider rural economy.

  • Additional direct employment created
  • Increased GVA (gross value added) profits
  • Improved access to services
  • No of residents in the area that may benefit from your project
  • Beneficial collaboration with other businesses/groups/enterprises
  • Will your project make use of local suppliers?
  • Will your project make use of local services, e.g local shop, post office, village hall etc?
  • Existing or new tourism activities supported
  • No. of potential additional overnight stays per annum in the local area
  • No. of potential additional day visits in the local area
  • Reduction in carbon emissions
  • Improved energy/water use
  • Reduction to waste
  • Beneficial impacts on sustainable travel
When you Need to Apply

We hold Decision Making Panels continually. However, in order for your project to be assessed at any given panel, you must submit your full project application and any supporting documents no less than 10 weeks prior to achieving a decision from us. Should you be successful, you will then be able to start your project once you have heard from us and we have sent you your grant funding agreement. This usually takes between 1 and 4 weeks from the date of the Decision Making Panel.

For further information and a list of Decision Making Panel dates, please refer to the timescales section of this website.

Am I Eligible?

Part 1 – You must be able to answer YES to all of the following questions:-

  • Am I a new or existing micro or small business (fewer than 50 FTE staff or 10 million euros turnover), a community group, a farm business, a collaboration of businesses, local authority, NGO or a destination organisation?
  • Am I looking for capital funding only(revenue funding may be available for one-off set up costs for community or not for profit projects)?
  • If I am a commercial organisation, am I able to match fund the project with 60% of my own funds (in kind or other public body contributions are not permitted, however if projects are non-profit making to your organisation, you will only need 20% match funding)?
  • If I am a community group, social enterprise or non- profit making enterprise, am I able to match fund the project with 20% of my own funds (in kind contributions are not permitted)?
  • Is your application larger than £2,500 (not including 60% match funding)?
  • Can I cash flow the project 100%? You must make all purchases before receiving the grant. You will receive payment after receipts have been submitted with your claim (claims may take up to 8 weeks to process).
  • Will I be able to continue with the project objectives, including maintaining ownership and use of any items purchased for a period of at least 5 years after claiming the grant?
  • Are you able to provide 3 years accounts, or for a new business a financial forecast (if grant requested is under £35k you only need 2 years accounts)?
  • If I am a tenant, will I have at least 5 years minimum term remaining on the tenancy agreement from the point of claiming the grant?
  • Is your project start date at least 4 months from the date you will send us the full application or is it flexible?
  • Will your project be completed within 12 months of receiving a contract grant offer from us?
  • If purchasing second-hand equipment, can I prove this was not previously purchased using public funds in the last 7 years and has at least 5 years useful life remaining?
  • If applicable, are all consents, permissions and licences in place e.g. planning permission?
  • Can I demonstrate a proven need/market for my proposals?

Part 2 – You must be able to answer NO to all the following questions. Is your application for:-

  • A commercial business that has received up to a maximum of 200,000 euros in government funding in the last 3 years?
  • A project that comprises routine repairs or maintenance of premises or equipment
  • Like for like replacements?
  • Hard copy marketing material?
  • A project that is part of your normal routine day to day work?
  • Ongoing staff or running costs (including salaries of permanent or fixed term staff)?
  • Any costs you incur when putting together your application – including consents such as planning permission, agents fees?
  • Any items that you already get EU or national funding for?
  • Day to day running costs of your premises (for example utility bills, council tax, rent or insurance)?
  • Contingency costs?
  • Land or building projects where the ownership or lease is not yet in place?
  • Loans, fines or interest payments?
  • Costs connected with a leasing contract, such as lessor’s margin, interest refinancing costs, overheads and insurance charges?
  • Purchase of equipment that will not be legally owned by you, the applicant, at the time of claiming the grant?
  • Activities that will happen or start before we confirm our grant?
  • Items that are purchased on behalf of another business/organisation?
  • A project or activity that the state, or your own business, has a legal obligation to provide, or is a standard industry obligation, e.g. disabled access, fire regulations, emergency exits (unless this is part of a wider major expansion project and cannot be segregated)?
  • Projects that you cannot maintain due to high ongoing costs, or projects that are not sustainable long-term?
  • VAT that you can recover?
  • Purchase of animals or plants?
  • Own labour?
  • Ongoing licence fees, subscriptions and service charges?
  • Feasibility Studies?
  • Improvements to your primary/main residential dwelling unit?
  • Standard computer and mobile equipment, e.g. computers, software and printers used for the general running of the business, such as processing orders and accounts?
  • Moveable fittings such as soft furnishing, beds, tables, chairs, curtains, television and audio equipment, crockery, cutlery, small kitchen equipment?
  • Tourism brown signs or motorway signage?
    • General landscaping, unless it is part of ‘making good’ for an application for a major attraction or accommodation expansion (only landscaping contractor’s fees would be eligible, not plants, seeds, turf or trees)?
  • Costs for renewable heat and energy systems covered by the renewable heat incentive (RHI) or Feed-In Tariffs (FITs)?
  • A project that will displace economic activity undertaken by other businesses?
Fit with Local and National Priorities

Local Priority

This grant programme fits within the Loddon and Test Local Priority 2: Enabling and supporting new and existing rural enterprises and SMEs while benefitting the rural economy and rural community (please see page 18 of the Local Development Strategy for further information on this).

National Priority

It fits the Rural Development Programme National Priority 4: Provision of Rural Services.

LEADER Programme Measures

All projects will need to show which programme measure they fit into. For this grant programme, there are 2 potential measures that could fit.

  • Measure 7.2 – Support for Investments in renewables infrastructure.
  • Measure 7.4 – Support for local basic services.
Example Projects

Many people find it helpful to look at the sorts of projects we have funded in the past. For a list of projects we funded under this grant programme, please follow the link below. You can then see some examples of successful projects.

Rural Community Services Example Projects

Send a Project Enquiry

Sending a Project Enquiry will enable us to give you feedback before you embark on the application process. It does not count towards the scoring of applications, but will mean we can give you advice which may help when you come to apply. Click here to fill out our online Project Enquiry Form.

Submit an Expression of Interest

If you have already chatted to us or you don’t feel you need initial guidance, you can go straight to Stage 2 and complete the Expression of Interest (EOI) form without the need to submit a Project Enquiry form. Guidance is provided on this website which takes you through the steps on how to complete the EOI as well as the downloadable form for you to complete. The form must be saved to your computer and then emailed to us.   Please click here to start your Expression of Interest.