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New Forest Rural SME Fund

Businesses in the New Forest can now apply for a share of a new £82,000 grant fund targeted specifically at rural, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The New Forest Rural Fund has been established to support businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic who are looking to take their first steps to recovery.                    

These are grants for capital investment of between £2,500 and £50,000 representing up to 50 percent of the total project costs are available.  The aim is to create and protect jobs, and businesses that can demonstrate a benefit to the New Forest’s rural economy including through development of local supply chains, creation of new products or services and an investment in skills will be prioritised.

The New Forest Rural SME Fund is a competitive fund managed by Natural Enterprise on our behalf.

The fund seeks to support the Solent economy by providing grants to rural small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with potential for economic growth, leveraging in private sector investment, creating or protecting jobs and assisting the rural sector on the Isle of Wight.

The additional funding for the New Forest Rural Fund will make grants available to rural SMEs of between £2,500 and £50,000, representing up to 50 percent of the total project costs. 

This is a fund for New Forest based rural SMEs that require capital investment to progress their project which will enable their business to expand and grow. Grants will need to be claimed by September 2021 and jobs created by December 2022.

To be eligible applications must meet the following criteria:

  • The bid must be for between £2,500 and £50,000.
  • The bid needs to demonstrate it will create or safeguard jobs. Priority will be given to applications creating higher numbers of jobs.
  • The bid must raise private investment, whether through the company’s own resources, investors or borrowing. The fund can provide up to 50% of your total project costs, up to a maximum grant of £50,000.  This means the bid must lever in at least £1 of private investment for every £1 of New Forest Rural SME support.  Successful bids tend to exceed this.
  • Bids must come from a wholly private organisation such as a limited company.
  • Bids must come from SMEs from the rural sector based in the New Forest.
  • Bids must come from SMEs able to demonstrate how their project will benefit the rural area.
  • Bids from third sector organisations, charities and community interest companies are eligible for consideration.
  • Bids must not involve the delivery of a public sector project or service.

New Forest Rural SME support is restricted to the rural sector only and funding can only be used to support capital expenditure items.

New Forest Rural SME funding cannot be used for a business’ existing working capital costs.  For clarity this includes items such as salaries, rent, rates, utilities, stock and raw materials.

New Forest Rural SME funding must comply with state aid rules.  The funding is offered under the “de minimis” aid heading, which permits a maximum of €200,000 of grant aid to a single recipient over a three-year period.

For more information, please see “New Forest Rural SME Fund – Technical Guidance for Applicants” which you can find in the 'Related Content' box to the right.

Businesses wishing to apply or seek further information about this scheme should click here or email emma.bloomfield@naturalenterprise.co.uk