Rural growth in Kent

PUBLISHED: 14:55 28 March 2015 | UPDATED: 14:55 28 March 2015

The food sector is one of the UK's largest employers

The food sector is one of the UK's largest employers

Manu Palomeque

Nick Sandford, chairman of the Kent branch of the CLA, on why Kent rural businesses should look at the opportunities to boost their growth through South East Local Enterprise Partnerships

Recognition is growing of the value of the businesses in our countryside. The rural economy is worth £210bn nationally and the food sector alone, from field to plate, is one of the country’s largest employers.

From farms to renewable energy generation, historic houses and holiday cottages, businesses in rural areas are making a major contribution to the 
UK’s economic recovery.

The value of our county’s rural economy has been calculated at £6.8bn and if it were a FTSE company, Kent’s agricultural sector would be approximately 65th in size.

Without strong businesses in the countryside, rural Kent would not enjoy the same investment into infrastructure such as roads and broadband.

But a flourishing countryside economy does not happen by itself. Individual owners of land and business, along with their employees, work extremely hard to bring their ideas to life and create new jobs.

They are supported by the CLA, which provides expert business advice as well as representing their interests to Government and other influencers within Kent, in Westminster and at European level.

Government-funded organisations also have an important responsibility to support the rural economy and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are a prime example.

The 39 LEPs across England aim to bring together leaders from business, local government and higher education. They were set up by the Government to identify economic priorities, make investments, drive growth and create jobs. Crucially, over the coming years they will have significant funding from a national pot.

This national growth money must be used to benefit all sections of the economy, including the countryside. There are many smaller rural businesses waiting for this funding so they can establish, grow and provide a competitive offer for customers.

LEPs can act as a major dynamic for rural economic growth, but this will only happen if they work closely with rural businesses and stakeholders who have the necessary experience to help them focus this money on areas and sectors where it is most needed and where the gain in economic delivery will be most beneficial.

The relationships are in place to allow this to happen in Kent. The CLA works closely with South East LEP (which covers Kent, Essex and East Sussex), and I am the LEP’s rural sector Chairman. It is a hefty investment of time but we are hopeful 
that our involvement through the LEP’s committee structure will pay dividends for the rural economy. South East LEP expects to receive £442.2m in funding from the UK Government to boost economic growth until 2021. It has also been allocated £165m of European funding to improve economic competitiveness and employment and £14.4m from Europe for rural development between 2015 and 2020. This funding is to support jobs and growth in rural areas.

I urge rural business to look into the opportunities you may be able to take up by working with South East LEP. In addition, rural businesses in many parts of Kent can apply for EU LEADER funding.

Now is the time to look at the application criteria for funding, understand the timescales and consider whether it could help your business to grow.

The CLA is working to ensure the opportunities will be on offer for rural businesses, it is up to the firms themselves to make the most of these opportunities 
as they come to fruition. n

More from Out & About

Kent Life looks at the environmental impact of the clothes we wear and why we need to be checking our shopping habits and wardrobes

Read more
Mon, 18:38

We’ve teamed up with Island Cottage Holidays and Isle of Wight Distillery to offer one lucky winner the chance to win £500 of holiday vouchers and a gin set

Read more
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Animals are always a source of joy so we have gathered some zoos and wildlife parks across the country (and beyond) that are livestreaming animal enclosures

Read more
ThereWithYou

Towered over by its iconic cathedral, the streets of this city have so many stories to tell

Read more

With Ash dieback on the increase, we look at how a Kent project is celebrating this much-loved tree’s special place in local culture

Read more
Monday, March 23, 2020

Thanks to the Guardians of the Deep project, Kent now has 11 Marine Conservation Zones

Read more
Friday, March 20, 2020

Kent has many castles and stately homes, but we have hand selected the ten best castles in Kent for you to visit

Read more

Admired by ancient royalty, set on a peaceful creek and packed with all kinds of attractions for modern visitors, we explore the historic streets of Faversham

Read more

With exciting news about the future of Betteshanger Park, a vibrant, artistic community - and great fishing, Deal stays true to its roots while appealing to modern visitors

Read more
Thursday, March 5, 2020

2020 marks 125 years since the founding of the National Trust - and Kent has always played a huge part in its story

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life