Rural Communities Fund

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

Applications to this grant fund will be closed from 15 January 2024 until further notice.

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.

What the Fund can support

The Fund provides support under the following four areas:

  • Climate Change Resilience (to include Flood Alleviation) – we want to help rural communities deliver solutions to Climate Change in their local areas to benefit both people and property (enabling the Rural Programme to collaborate with the recommendations of HCC’s newly formed Climate Emergency department)
  • Countryside – we want to help rural communities improve their local natural environment, increase access to the countryside or enhance biodiversity
  • Rural Economy and Business (to include Rural Retailers) – we want to help all Rural Businesses and Community Enterprises 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
First step - contact the team
  • If you are a representative of a rural parish council, group or organisation with an idea or even have a ‘ready to go project’ and want to know more then please get in touch with the team at [email protected]
  • We will be able to discuss how your goals can relate to the Fund priorities and take you through the next steps, and the details needed to secure an investment.

In the interim, to assist in confirming the viability of your project, take a look at some recent successful applications below, followed by further fund criteria and eligibility information

Examples of successful 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
Fund criteria and eligibility

Applicants are welcome to support the priorities and outcomes of Hampshire County Council’s Serving Hampshire - Strategic Plan for 2021 to 2025. It forms the cornerstone of all strategies and plans across departments and service areas. It features four key aims:

  • Hampshire maintains strong and sustainable economic growth and prosperity
  • people in Hampshire live safe, healthy and independent lives
  • people in Hampshire enjoy a rich and diverse environment
  • people in Hampshire enjoy being part of strong, inclusive communities

Applications should meet all of the following criteria in order to be considered. 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 be able to demonstrate 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
  • 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
  • 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 rural retailer and community enterprise schemes must adhere to the detailed scheme guidance (contact us for the necessary details)
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
  • We typically fund up to a maximum of £5,000
  • Organisations seeking funding of less than £500 are generally recommended to look at County Councillor grants
  • This is a 50% match funded scheme, though match funding of less than 50% may be considered in some circumstances. An element of match funding can be ‘in-kind’, e.g. through volunteer time (excluding Community Service Payback Teams). 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
What we can't fund
  • Projects that receive funding from other Hampshire County Council sources (except for County Councillor grants)
  • General maintenance or renovation projects for Community Buildings. Improvement projects will be considered where a strong community benefit can be demonstrated
  • Individuals
  • 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