Rural Communities Fund 2018-19

Supports Parish Councils, groups and organisations in rural Hampshire and small market towns

The Rural Communities Fund supports Parish Councils, groups and organisations in rural Hampshire and small market towns. The priorities of the scheme are to build community resilience and encourage self-help.

Applications are welcome to support three specific themes as well as general projects or initiatives supporting the scheme priorities.

  • Community-led flood alleviation – we want to help rural communities deliver solutions to flooding in their local areas to benefit both people and property

  • Countryside access – we want to help communities deliver improvements to their local access network

  • Rural retailers and community enterprises – we want to help them grow, increase their productivity and ultimately improve the services that are offered to communities in rural areas

  • Other – we are keen to support other projects or initiatives that will help build community resilience and/or encourage self-help in rural areas e.g. supporting vulnerable and older people; supporting innovative transport solutions to access services. Contact us to discuss your project ideas before making an application and we can advise if it will be eligible

When to apply

Applications for funding up to £5,000:

Accepted throughout the year and decisions will typically be made within eight weeks of receiving a completed application.  

Applications for funding over £5,000:   

Application deadline

Decision by

2 March 2018

21 June 2018

20 July 2018

1 November 2018

2 November 2018

7 March 2019

Funding criteria

We typically fund up to a maximum of £5,000, although larger grants are available to support applications for community-led flood alleviation schemes and retailer and community enterprise schemes (typically up to £10,000).

The minimum grant is typically £1,000 however awards may be for less if this is felt to be appropriate, in particular for applicants to the countryside access theme. Organisations seeking funding of less than £500 are generally recommended to look at County Councillor Grants.

The organisation must have actively sought funding from other sources; this must include district, borough, town or parish council funding where available. Priority will be given to applications which have partner funding in place from other sources, particularly district, borough, town or parish council funding where available.

An element of match funding can be ‘in-kind’ (e.g. through volunteer time). Any in-kind contributions must be accounted for as part of the total cost of the project/activity, for example the total cost is made up of expenditure (e.g. materials, contractors) and the value of in-kind contributions.

  • For applicants to the countryside access theme we typically ask for 50% match funding. This can include in kind contributions made up of volunteer labour (excluding Community Service Payback Teams) and/or contributions from landowners. Match funding of less than 50% may be considered in some circumstances

  • For applicants to the retailer and community enterprise theme we ask for a minimum of 50% match funding of the total eligible costs. For commercial businesses, the match funding cannot be sourced from any other grant making authority. For community enterprises, the match funding can be sourced from other grants

Grant criteria and eligibility

We will fund applications which meet all of the following criteria. It is a competitive process, so grants will be approved on their merits.

  • Projects/activities must deliver measurable results against the priorities of the Fund

  • The project/activity must take place in rural Hampshire, a small market town, or directly benefit rural communities

  • Applications must have support from the local community and Parish/Town Council

  • Applicants must have a clear management structure within its constitution or suitable governance/terms of reference (with the exception of landowners applying to the countryside access theme)

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate that without support from Hampshire County Council the project/activity would not be able to proceed at all or to the extent outlined in the application

  • Applicants with significant funds in place or higher levels of reserves must demonstrate why funding from Hampshire County Council is needed.

  • Applications must include a project plan, business plan or specification (where applicable)

  • If the application is successful, it is expected that you will have a plan to continue the project/activity after the end of the funding period (where applicable)

  • Successful applicants must provide appropriate reporting and/or monitoring for their projects/activities

  • Successful applicants must acknowledge the support of Hampshire County Council in all publicity and media coverage relating to the project, and in the organisation’s next annual audited statement of accounts

  • Applicants must have appropriate policies, procedures and insurance in place

  • Applications for community-led flood alleviation schemes must:

    • demonstrate the benefit to people and property, without any increase in risk elsewhere

    • have the necessary consents from the Environment Agency and Hampshire County Council

  • Applications for countryside access schemes must adhere to the detailed scheme guidance

  • Applications for rural retailer and community enterprise schemes must adhere to the detailed scheme guidance

Financial eligibility

Organisations will not normally be eligible for grants where they hold unallocated reserves in excess of one year’s running costs. In cases where reserves held exceed this level, a reduced level of funding may be agreed. All charitable organisations are expected to have an agreed reserves policy that addresses their financial risk.

What we can fund

If you are applying to the rural retailer and community enterprise theme, or the countryside access theme select the scheme guidance below to find out more about the eligible activities and any additional criteria.

Rural retailers and community enterprises – scheme guidance

Countryside access – scheme guidance

What we can't fund
  • Projects that receive funding from other Hampshire County Council sources (except for County Councillor grants)

  • Individuals (with the exception of landowners applying for countryside access schemes)

  • Profit making events/activities (with the exception of applications for rural retailer and community enterprise schemes)

  • Projects or activities solely within the unitary authority areas of Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council

  • Non-constituted organisations (with the exception of landowners applying for countryside access schemes)

  • Projects/work that has already been carried out, you must apply for a grant and receive an offer from us before starting any work or making any purchases

  • General/core running costs of an organisation

If you are applying to the rural retailer and community enterprise theme, or the countryside access theme select the scheme guidance above to find out more about activities that are not eligible for funding and any additional criteria.

Example projects
  • Abbotts Ann Green Action helped households identify heat-loss hot-spots in their homes and provided advice on how to reduce this

  • Chilbolton Parish Council improved drainage from the village towards the River Test, to help prevent future flooding

  • East Woodhay Parish Council constructed  a boardwalk to allow a waterlogged section of path to be used by the community throughout the year

  • Futurefarms- Martin Ltd., a not for profit co-operative run by volunteers, set up a small shop selling groceries and local produce in the village hall

  • Stockbridge Parish Council held free IT help sessions at the weekly Country Market to give residents greater confidence to use the internet

Application process

Before applying to the Rural Communities Fund you must contact us by email to discuss the eligibility of your project and arrange a site visit (where appropriate). When advised by the Rural Communities Fund Team follow the application guidance to complete your online application form and any theme specific forms detailed in the scheme guidance.

  • Applications requesting £5,000 or less are typically assessed within eight weeks; however this may take longer if you do not submit all the necessary supporting information with your application. When a complete application has been received, including all the required supporting information, you will be sent an email to inform you of the decision date for your application

  • Applications requesting over £5,000 will be assessed on the decision date stated in the ‘When to apply’ section

  • You will be sent an email within one week of the decision date to inform you of the outcome of your application

  • Successful applicants will be sent formal grant documents (offer letter and terms and conditions) within two weeks of the decision date

  • Signed terms and conditions documents must be returned to Hampshire County Council before work can commence

  • Funding will be released upon receipt of the signed terms and conditions document by Hampshire County Council

  • The case officer may contact you to check progress; you should also contact the case officer for advice as necessary

  • When work is complete, submit the evaluation form provided along with supporting documents (e.g. invoices, photos)

  • The case officer will arrange a final site visit (where applicable) to assess the work and ensure it has been completed in accordance with the terms and conditions

  • If the work is not completed to a satisfactory standard the case officer will discuss any changes with you and agree a period of time to get the work done

Countryside access scheme application guidance

Retailers and community enterprises theme application guidance

Other themes application guidance