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Warwickshire Rural Hub


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.

Key dates in 2020 for the Rural Payments Agency

Visit this page for the key dates in 2020 for Basic Payment Scheme, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship. The timeline also includes some of the things that you need to do to meet the cross compliance and Ecological Focus Area (EFA) /greening requirements of your application(s).

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.

Henry Plumb Foundation opens its grant programme

The Henry Plumb Foundation funds young people (18-35) with interests, business ideas and study plans that will lead to a career in the agricultural or food industry. Funding ranges from £500 – £3,000. These could take the form of:

  • Business start ups
  • Internships
  • Overseas exchanges
  • Events
  • Management courses

Visit this page for full information.  The closing date for applications is Friday 6 March 2020.  Interviews take place on 29 April.

Grant for feasibility of food production solutions to help achieve net zero emissions

Up to £15 million of grant funding is available through the Transforming Food Production Science and Technology into Practice programme for feasibility study projects (£5 million) and demonstration projects (£10 million) which offer precision solutions to transform food production, have the potential to improve productivity and sustainability and could contribute to the target of net zero emissions from agriculture by 2040.  Total eligible costs must be between £75,000 and £250,000.

Closing date for applications is mid-day on 26 February 2020.  Full details on how to apply can be found 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.

Funding available for rural business start ups

Forest Holidays and The Prince’s Countryside Fund have teamed up to create The Rural Start-Up Fund, an exciting opportunity for rural businesses to receive financial support as they embark on a new business venture.  A total of £5,000 is available in the Rural Start-Up Fund in 2020, to be awarded to one winning business or shared between a number of rural start-ups. In addition, as part of the Rural Start-Up Fund, the successful applicant(s) will receive mentoring support from a relevant expert in the Forest Holidays team to further guide and support them.

Applications are now open and close on 6 March 2020.  Visit this page for full information on how to apply.

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

"The Hub helps to inspire its Members to do something different, to embrace change and learn from each other."

Henry Lucas,
Warwickshire Rural Hub Chairman

Would you Like to

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


Registration No: 7026157

Registered office: 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9SA

Hub Chairman

Henry Lucas

Rural Hub Co-ordinator

Jane Hampson

Tel: 07780 159291



Warwickshire Rural Hub CIC Directors

Henry Lucas (Hub Chairman)
Graham Collier (Hub Deputy Chairman)
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.