In 2022 central government provided local authorities with a sum of money through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

East Hampshire District Council designated this money to help rural communities through the Grow Up! Programme - and as part of that set up the Rural Business Network.

The Rural Business Network aims to provide opportunities for rural organisations and businesses to:

  • receive support and advice with running their businesses, and be signposted to the latest legislation, financial advice and training;
  • discuss the issues which are affecting local rural businesses and provide opportunities for likeminded land-based professionals to meet up;
  • learn about diversifying their businesses or exploring opportunities for growing new crops to be more resilient to climate change, and explore local outlets for their produce;
  • support the next generation of land-based workers by offering apprenticeships and traineeships;
  • support new land-based businesses;
  • help to develop local solutions to issues such as rural crime;
  • explore opportunities to improve digital connectivity for rural businesses;
  • connect to key organisations such as South Downs National Park Authority, the National Farmers Union, and Hampshire County Council.


The Rural Business Network held its inaugural event in Selborne in January 2023, and has since:

  • met in March at Liss Pavilion to discuss sustainability in rural communities,
  • hosted a farm walk in East Meon in June,
  • discussed recruitment in rural employment at an event in Privett at the end of June, and
  • discussed sustainability in rural business in July.

The next meeting will take place in Alton in October 2023.

New directions event


To support this programme central government has provided East Hampshire District Council with the Rural England Prosperity Fund (the ‘rural grant’) which will provide capital grants to rural businesses and community groups.

This fund will be available until March 2025.

The rural grant will be available for grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 – and depending on the community and social impact may require no match funding at all. Eligible business projects may have to provide match funding of up to 50%.

Application period

The first year’s allocation is £196,248. Eligible applicants will be able to apply from 9:00am on Monday 31st July 2023. The application process will close at 11:59am on Friday 29 September 2023.

The second year’s allocation will be £294,370 and the application process for grants from this pot will open from April 2024.

Find out more

East Hampshire District Council ran a webinar on Tuesday 8 August 2023, to let you know more about the rural grant and answer some of your questions.

Watch the webinar

You can also see a copy of the presentation that was delivered:

Guidance notes and FAQs

How to apply

To apply you will need to set up a MyEHDC account.

Apply for a rural grant