Fund to support Aberdeenshire's rural partnership activities

Councillors have endorsed a new fund which will support the region’s rural partnerships to explore options for their diversification and future financial viability, enabling them to continue supporting community activities in their areas.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 6:50 am
The £145,000 fund is designed to support activities which focus on recovery from Covid-19 and promote community enterprise and resilience.

Aberdeenshire Council has launched the £145,000 Rural Partnerships Challenge Fund (RPCF) to specifically focus on Covid recovery to support community enterprise and resilience.

The deadline for applications is September 3, however if all the available funding is not committed in the first round, it is proposed that a second round will be launched in Spring next year. Rural partnerships are being contacted directly by the council’s Economic Development Service.

Monies from the one-off fund can be spent in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years with a minimum grant of £10,000 and no maximum amount up to the £145,000 available.

However proposals for grant funding in excess of £30,000 will be expected to cover at least two rural partnership areas and joint proposals across two or more areas are being encouraged.

Guidance suggests the types of activity and outcomes which could be expected, but ultimately it will be for the rural partnerships to set out why their proposals are locally relevant and the added value that they bring. The council is particularly keen to consider proposals which explore business diversification and financial sustainability models for the rural partnerships.

Councillor Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “I would encourage all our rural partnerships to use this fund to support innovative new business and operating models which will support their future viability and sustainability.

"A key aspect of this fund will be encouraging joint working among rural partnerships, with a particular focus on scaling up or possibly extending successful initiatives and exploring the scope for operational efficiencies.”

Vice-chair Councillor John Cox added: “We will expect the partnerships to demonstrate how any activity will contribute towards the council’s own policy drivers, including inclusive economic growth, net zero, digital inclusion and tackling poverty and inequalities.”