LEADER PROGRAMMES - Rural Business Grants (Free)

What is the grant available for?

Outline applications are now being accepted to support business and community projects in rural areas from the four LEADER programmes in Lincolnshire; The Coastal Action Zone, Kestevens, Lindsey Action Zone and Wash Fens.

Small rural businesses are being urged to apply for grant funding that could help them to achieve their growth ambitions.  The LEADER programme is inviting applications from start-up and existing businesses that need help to realise their investment plans.  

Funding can be used towards the purchase of capital equipment, machinery, innovative technology, property expansion or improvements and should lead to the creation of new jobs or the economic growth of a business. 

LEADER grants can be accessed by businesses, farmers, foresters and those involved in tourism, heritage and community initiatives.

Delivery targets and required outcomes

All LEADER funded activities must also make a contribution to growing the rural economy, such as creating new jobs, growing businesses, improving productivity and efficiency, increasing tourism visitors or providing new services.

Applications for funds must contribute to one or more of six national priorities:-

  1. Increase farm productivity
  2. Support micro & small businesses and farm diversification
  3. Boost rural tourism
  4. Provide rural services
  5. Provide cultural and heritage activities (where this promotes growth in the tourism economy)
  6. Increase forestry productivity

Grant amounts available

Grants are available up to 40% of project costs and are typically in the range of £2,500 to £40,000. Higher amounts can be awarded in exceptional circumstances, for example where significant jobs will be created. LEADER is the local delivery arm for allocating EU funds from the Rural Development Programme for England.  There are five Local Action Groups (LAGs) responsible for delivering the LEADER across Greater Lincolnshire. 

Who can apply:  Grants are available to businesses with fewer than 50 staff, located in a rural area (urban parts of Lincoln, Grantham, Boston, and Spalding are not eligible for the funding).

Not all costs will be eligible for funding.  Costs that can't be funded include salaries, running costs, like for like replacements of existing items, standard computers and standard business software, moveable fittings such as desks and chairs.

For details of how to apply or to find your Local Action Group send an Email with your postcode to LincsLEADER@lincolnshire.gov.uk  or visit  www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/funding

For more information about LEADER visit:  


In addition to LEADER funding, the Rural Development Programme for England provides grants to rural businesses through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). 

There are three calls for activity that are now open for businesses to submit Expressions of Interest and the calls are focused around:

  • Food Processing where food & drink businesses that process agricultural and horticultural products are encouraged to apply


  • Business Development where small rural businesses – new or existing, which includes farmers  who would like to diversify into non-agricultural activity


  • Tourism Infrastructure where:  If a project is commercial and will make a profit, only small businesses and farmers who want to diversify can apply or if the project won't make a profit, a wide range of organisations can apply (including public bodies and charities).


All information (including the handbook for each call and EOI application form) is available on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme

Who provides the grant?

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) provides money through LEADER for projects to improve agriculture, the environment and rural life. It is managed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The programme is planned to run for 5 years, or until all funding has been allocated. All project funded expenditure will need to be completed by 30th October 2020.

How to Apply

Please visit the website