THE doubling of Government grants to help rural business to expand has been welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (see News, yesterday) – along with a call for a speeding up of the grant making process.
Any plan to help rural businesses during the recession is welcome
Henry Aubrey-Fletcher - CLA
Defra is seeking permission from the European Commission to increase grants from 50% to the whole estimated cost of rural diversification or expansion schemes – always a long process.
And anyone wishing to apply for such a grant must then make an application to the local development agency, Yorkshire Forward.
And although the promise to double the money available is welcome, the CLA is appealing for the application process to be speeded up.
CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: "Any plan to help rural businesses during the recession is welcome and making this type of funding available could be the type of cash injection many rural areas need.
"However, if this is going to work, it has to be done efficiently and quickly. Our concern remains that in too many cases, applications for grants under rural development programmes can take months before a decision is made.
"What is required is a fast-track approach where those who need grants can actually receive them in a timely fashion that will help negate the impact of the recession."
Dorothy Fairburn, CLA Yorkshire Regional Director added: The proposed changes do not mean that all projects will be 100 per cent publicly funded. Yorkshire Forward uses an appraisal process to ensure that projects being supported can be successful and provide value for money. The flexibility that this change brings is very welcome.”