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Warwickshire Rural Hub


Innovate UK Fast Track competition

Innovate UK has launched a fast start competition to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. By fast-tracking innovation, the UK will be better placed to maintain employment levels, a competitive position in global markets and make the UK more resilient to similar disruption.

Applications must demonstrate both realistic and significant benefits for society (including communities, families and individuals) or an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Proposals must focus on a clear need and the proposed innovation to address it. The business must have the ability to deliver the project during the working restrictions of Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses can claim 100% of project costs up to the maximum of £50,000.   Funding will be paid in advance of the project start date and single company applications only are invited.

The competition closes on 17th April. Successful applicants will be notified on 1st May. Apply Now

Prince’s Countryside Fund Emergency Grants Fund is now open

The Prince’s Countryside Fund has launched an emergency fund to assist organisations which are providing emergency relief to vulnerable or isolated individuals, providing support to farmers and farm businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic or are assisting rural or farming communities to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.

With thanks to Players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the Fund can award grants of up to £2,500.

To be eligible for a grant you will need to demonstrate that your project is providing emergency relief to vulnerable or isolated individuals in rural or farming communities across the UK.  The grant could cover fuel costs for grocery and prescription delivery from rural community shops, pubs, and hubs, costs associated with emergency support by farm and agricultural support groups or rural foodbanks and food delivery.

Registered Charities, Community Benefit Societies, Community Interest Companies, Companies limited by guarantee and Social enterprises may all apply for the funding.  

Applications are via an online form and the closing date is 15 April 2020 at 12 noon.   Visit this page for full information.

Countryside Productivity Small Grant deadline extended

The deadline date for the Countryside Productivity Small Grant scheme has been extended to mid-night on 31 July 2020.   All items must be in place at the location stated in your application and operational, before you submit your claim. If you still intend to claim, please buy your items and submit your claim email to by 31 July 2020 but earlier if at all possible. You can use the claim template and supporting documents detailed in your Grant Funding Agreement.  Submit your Invoices, Bank Statements and Photos as per Annex 5 of the handbook.

If you have any concerns that you will be unable to meet the new deadline date of 31 July then please email or call 03000 200 301.

COVID-19: Support for the self-employed

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The scheme will provide a grant to self-employed individuals or partnerships, worth 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those where the majority of their income comes from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. The scheme will be open for an initial three months with people able to make their first claim by the beginning of June.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the scheme you must meet all the criteria below:

  • Be self-employed or a member of partnership;
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19;
  • File a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or a member of a trading partnership. Those who have not yet filed for 2018-19 will have an additional 4 weeks from this announcement to do so;
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID 19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your total income come from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
    • Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
    • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

How do I access it?

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. HMRC will then pay the grant directly to eligible claimants’ bank account. HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid out by beginning of June 2020. For eligible individuals who have not submitted their returns for 2018-19, they will have 4 weeks’ notice from the date of the announcement to file their returns and therefore become eligible for this scheme.

HMRC are publishing guidance on the scheme, available here. This guidance will continue to be updated.

When can I access it?

HMRC is urgently working to deliver the scheme; grants are expected to start to be paid by the beginning of June 2020. This time is necessary to ensure that the scheme is both deliverable and fair. In the interim the self-employed will still able eligible for other government support including more generous universal credit and business continuity loans.

Further information on how to access these schemes can be found here.

COVID-19: Support for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19.

This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

Full details of the support available and how to access the schemes are available on this page.

BPS claim system is now open

The BPS scheme application windows is now open. Farmers can apply for BPS between 12 March and midnight on 15 May (without penalty), or by midnight on 9 June (late application penalties apply). More information is available on

Barclays unveil £50m adverse weather fund

In a bid to alleviate financial woes following the recent flooding, Barclays has announced a £50 million Adverse Weather Fund for affected businesses.  The bank’s package of support also includes increased or new overdraft facilities and other working capital solutions.  Ian Rand, Chief Executive of Business Banking, said: “We want to ensure that farmers are aware of the support that they can receive as we aim to help them with the devastating impact of the flooding”.

Lloyds Bank has also announced support for farmers impacted by flooding, offering temporary and fee-free increases to overdrafts to help with working capital.

Worcestershire flood recovery grant

A £500 Community Flood Recovery Grant is available for residential properties. Households are eligible where flood water has entered the habitable areas of the property, or the residence is considered unliveable for any period of time due to flooding. The grant does not apply to empty homes, second homes or student accommodation.

A £2,500 Business Flood Recovery Grant is available per small / medium sized business affected. Businesses are eligible where the business is directly impacted or has directly suffered a loss of trade as a result of the flooding that cannot be recovered from insurance.

  • Worcester City Council details here.
  • Malvern Hills District Council details here.

Wyre Forest, Redditch and Bromsgrove; funding to be announced see here

Loan and grant funding for businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire

An innovative new scheme has been helping businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire find the investment they need to grow their business.
The Duplex Investment Fund, which is a combined grant and loan, is an initiative between the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT).  The fund is aimed at businesses which are unable to generate sufficient cash to progress with an otherwise viable investment project.  Loans between £30,000 to £100,000 are available and up to 40 per cent of the expenditure could be available as a grant, allowing businesses to manage their cash flow flexibly.  To qualify, businesses will need to have traded for two years, have a business plan and be able to demonstrate that they need the grant. Applicants who can prove that new jobs will be created will be given priority.

For further information or to apply for the Duplex Investment Fund, call Andrew Scarborough or Leah Blocksidge on 02476 551 777 or email or

Funding available for innovative business ideas

Up to £25 million is available through Innovate UK’s Smart programme to invest in innovative business projects across any technology area. Projects must show that they will exploit game-changing ideas to develop new products, processes and services that will have significant economic impact. The competition opens on 9 January 2020, and the deadline for applications is at midday on 22 April 2020. Businesses of any size may apply, and all applications must include a micro, small or medium-sized company. Projects can range in size from £25,000 to £2 million and last between 6 and 36 months.

Further information is available on this page.  

Countryside Stewardship application window opens

The application window for the Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme opened on 11 February.   All CS agreements confirmed by the end of 2020 will be funded for their full lifetime.  Farmers and land managers who are new to taking on environmental work or with expired or expiring Environmental Stewardship agreements can apply for:

• Mid Tier (closing date 31 July)
• Higher Tier (closing date 1 May)
• Wildlife Offers (closing date 31 July)
• Hedgerows and Boundaries (closing date 1 May)
• Woodland support

To apply and find out more visit GOV.UK.    The Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) partnership can support applications for Mid Tier capital grants to improve water and air quality in a high priority area.  If your holding is in a High Water Quality Priority Area, contact your local CSF Officer for advice by 31 May.

Claiming BPS in extreme weather conditions

The Rural Payments Agency has provided guidance for farmers who are claiming Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2020 and are experiencing difficulties due to heavy rain and flooding. The RPA has advised that temporarily flooded land is still eligible for BPS claims. Clarification has been provided for farmers who may struggle to meet their crop diversity requirements (the 3 crop rule) and qualify for the greening element of the payment. The following information will be helpful if you are in this position. Read more here

Defra podcast to help farmers prepare for transition period after EU exit

At 11pm on 31 January 2020 the UK will leave the EU and embark on the transitional period which ends on 31 December 2020.   In partnership with Farmers Weekly magazine, Defra has recorded a podcast on funding for farmers.

Key facts about payments in 2020:

  1. Direct Payments will continue for 2020 with the available funding the same as for 2019.
  2. The UK government will also fund existing Rural Development Programme (RDPE) projects and those approved by 31 December 2020 until those projects end.
  3. To get payments, you’ll need to follow the same standards as you do now. This includes on-site inspections of UK farms. The current framework of rules and processes will stay the same until Defra and the devolved administrations introduce new agriculture policies and schemes.

BBC Dragon’s Den seeks new business ideas

The BBC are now in production of series 18 of Dragons’ Den and on the hunt for business ideas, inventions or products with serious business potential that are hungry for investment.   Dragons’ Den is a challenging place to pitch, but it’s also a genuine business opportunity to secure investment. In the current series 27 entrepreneurs accepted offers of investment in the Den with a combined total of almost £2 million invested by the Dragons, with plenty more achieving success after taking on board the Dragons’ advice.  Entrepreneurs wanting to apply can do so by emailing the Casting Researcher, Jessica, on

Advice on plant and machinery allowances

Rural Hub business supporter Ellacotts has written an article giving some advice on plant and machinery allowances.  Read the full article here.

Farming Recovery Fund available in some parts of Worcestershire

The second phase of the Farming Recovery Fund is now open for applications and farmers in parts of Worcestershire are now eligible. The Fund is to help those farmers who have been affected by the ‘impact’ of flooding. In this case, the ‘impact’ could include the following:

  • Access to your agricultural land or farm buildings is cut off;
  • Areas of your agricultural land no longer being stock proof;
  • Debris on your agricultural land;
  • Damage to riverbanks on the field edge;
  • Impact on any of the items or activities listed in tables 1, 2 and 3.

The money will go towards the costs of reinstating and repairing the affected agricultural land as quickly as possible. Only certain items and activities are eligible for funding as set out in the Handbook. The minimum grant available is £500 and the maximum is £25,000. The guidance and application form can be found here.

£3 billion of support for farmers announced

The Chancellor has confirmed nearly £3 billion of funding for 2020 to support farmers once the UK leaves the EU. The cash injection will maintain the level of funding for Direct Payments at the same rate as last year.  Sajid Javid confirmed the cash will be used to support farmers once the UK leaves the EU. The UK will leave the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Direct Payments scheme, which supports farmers across Europe with subsidies in 2020. This will be replaced by a new system based on public money for public goods.  The cash injection will allow the funding for Direct Payments for 2020 to continue at the same level as 2019 and supplement the remaining EU funding that farmers will receive for development projects until 2023 at the latest. The government will guarantee the current annual budget to farmers in every year of the Parliament.

Bursary for students at RAC and Reading University studying agriculture

The Jordans and The Prince’s Countryside Fund Sustainable Agriculture Bursary aims to support undergraduate students to pursue their interest in sustainable agriculture and farming practices.  Students must fulfil the following criteria:​

  • Must be aged between 18 – 35
  • Have a conditional or unconditional offer for either an agricultural degree at the Royal Agricultural University or a degree at the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, starting in September 2020
  • Either the Royal Agricultural University or the University of Reading must be your first choice university
  • All applicants must live in the UK
  • Have a genuine and demonstrable interest in sustainable agriculture

Successful applicants will receive a £3,000 cash award in their first year and a further £1,000 in both their second and third year of study, to support their academic studies and help to further their interest in and knowledge of sustainable agricultural practice.  The closing dates is 29 May 2020.  Further information can be viewed on this page.

Coventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme

Do you want to save money on your energy bills and the make the most of low carbon opportunities?  The Green Business programme can help you identify energy savings and support the development of new low carbon products and technologies.   For further information visit this page.

Coventry and Warwickshire Innovation Programme

Supporting the development of new innovative products and technologies for SMEs, the programme provides a range of assistance including one-to-one support, networking and access to grants of up to £100,000.  Visit this page for further information.

Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme

A free service comprising one-to-one or group support targeted at new businesses, or established businesses with under 250 employees who want to grow.   Visit this page for further information.

Gigabit Voucher Scheme for small and medium sized businesses

If you are a small or medium-sized business, you may be able to get a grant of up to £3,000 to upgrade your business broadband to a Gigabit capable connection.   Details of approved suppliers can be found at the link below.

Website: Open Website

HS2 Woodland Fund

The HS2 Woodland Fund provides grant payments for restoring plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) and/or creating new native woodland. Funding is available for a range of capital items, paying 100% of the associated standard cost, with a maintenance payment also available for woodland creation. £1 million of funding is due to open for applications in January 2018 and will close in April 2020, subject to remaining budget availability. There are no application windows.
Further information is available on the website below.

Website: Open Website

Change to Woodland Creation threshold

The threshold for applications to the Woodland Creation Planning Grant has been lowered to 10 hectares. At least one woodland block within an application must be of 10 ha or more in size, with additional blocks being at least 5 ha in size. This means that if your application is less than 15 ha in total, it must be formed of a single woodland block. Visit the website below for more information.

Contact: None
Telephone: None
Email Address: None
Website: Open Website

Updates to digital maps

The RPA is currently updating digital maps and will use this latest mapping data when calculating BPS 2017 payments. Claimants of Environmental / Countryside Stewardship and Forestry Legacy Schemes may need to review the changes to make sure their applications and/ or agreements are correct.

Natural England refreshes its livestock recording templates

Natural England has updated the templates for recording livestock to make them more user friendly. Therefore the webpage has been refreshed. Specific livestock record keeping applies to CS and ELS/HLS agreements that started on or after 1 January 2013.

Website: Open Website

CFE advises voluntary maintenance of expiring environmental schemes

The Campaign for the Farmed Environment is encouraging farmers who are in Environmental Stewardship schemes to voluntarily maintain conservation work when the scheme has expired. Voluntary management may assist such farmers to benefit from any future schemes, post Brexit, and returning such land to production will undo the investment of time and money already made, says CFE.

Fully funded training to invest in your workforce

Would you like the opportunity improve your staff productivity, increase staff morale and receive support from professionals who will help you grow your business?
Inspire 2 Independence is working in partnership with Serco on the delivery of Skills Support for the Workforce across Coventry & Warwickshire. The funding is available to local businesses within Coventry & Warwickshire with 100% funding of a range of units and qualifications aimed at up-skilling your workforce. No financial contribution is required from your business to access this training opportunity, all that is required is a commitment to the development of your staff.
For further information please contact your i2i representative today.

Telephone: 07850 204799

New form to raise BPS issues

The RPA has developed a new way to deal with cases of unreported BPS 2015 / 2016 payment issues, which includes an enquiry form for farmers to complete and send to the RPA.
For further information and to download a copy of the form please use the link below.

Website: Open Website

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Donate to the Hub?

A donation to the Hub of any amount is always gratefully received. However, it is only donations of over £100 that can be acknowledged on the Hub website as a Champion.  A donation can be given to the Hub by cheque, bank payment, standing order or by the Paypal Link Below.

Contact Us

The Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC
c/o Pleasance Farm, Kenilworth
Warwickshire, CV8 1PR

Tel: 07780 159291

Company Registration No: 7026157
Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA



Hub Chair

Henry Lucas






Jane Hampson

Tel: 07780 159291






Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Henry Lucas (Chair)
Graham Collier (Deputy Chair)
Karen Ellis
Carrie Robbins
Alexandra Robinson
James Walton





Hub Steering Group Members

George Bostock, NFU
Mark Dickin, Ellacotts Accountants
Tom Newbery, Highfield Farm
Alexandra Robinson, Wright Hassall LLP
Matt Willmott, King's Seeds
Jon Slee, Abbey Farm
Andrew Cook, Farmer
Emlyn Evans, Squab Hall


The Warwickshire Rural Hub accepts no liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss arising from any action taken in reliance on the information contained on this website.

© 2018 Warwickshire Rural Hub. All rights reserved.