Fund offers boost to rural businesses

Rural businesses could benefit from match-funded grants of up to £50,000 to help create jobs increase productivity and adopt new technology.

Rother and Wealden district councils will be using money from their Rural England Prosperity Fund to support a range of businesses, with a £500,000 pot for Wealden and a £300,000 pot for Rother.

The scheme launches on Friday, January 12, and small and medium businesses can apply for financial support for projects including the purchase of equipment and machinery, adaptation of premises, the creation or expansion of rural leisure and tourism businesses and farm diversification outside of agriculture.

Cllr Christine Bayliss, Rother District Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “Our rural businesses have had to deal with so much uncertainty over the past few years and continue to face significant challenges, so it’s great that we can offer financial support to help them succeed and grow.

“These grants will help to safeguard existing jobs in rural areas, as well as creating new ones, help businesses future-proof with the introduction of new technology, and support diversification projects.

“Rural businesses are vital to the Rother economy and to the thousands of people living in our rural communities, and I hope that we are able to help as many as possible to thrive.”

Councillor Paul Coleshill, Alliance for Wealden (Liberal Democrat), and lead councillor for Climate Change and Economy, said, “This funding will give eligible businesses much needed financial help to grow, creating jobs and helping communities within rural Wealden thrive. The grant can be used to support businesses with a range of equipment, for work vehicles and for adaptations to premises.  There are many rural businesses that could be eligible for the funding so please apply.”

Match-funded grants of between £2,500 and £50,000 will be available in communities with a population of under 30,000 and both councils are keen to see non-agricultural applications which will help businesses grow or diversify. The Rother and Wealden Rural Business Grants Scheme is not open to those businesses located in Bexhill, Polegate or Stone Cross.  This requirement has been set by Defra. 

The fund closes on December 31, 2024, or when all funds are allocated.  More information about the grant scheme and details of how to apply can be found at

The Rother and Wealden Rural Business Grants are funded through the UK Government’s Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF) and are administered by East Sussex County Council. 

This programme has received funding from the UK Government through the Rural England Prosperity Fund and creates a rural top up fund to deliver the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Levelling Up objectives. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK, investing in communities and place and supporting local business. For more information, visit Rural England Prosperity Fund: prospectus – GOV.UK (

Published: 10th January 2024

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