Website Closure

Thank you for visiting this website.

Cambridgeshire ACRE aims to ensure as many communities, volunteers and organisations as possible know about, and can access, our support services. To improve our communications, we are rationalising our websites and this website will be closed down on 16 July 2021.

Cambridgeshire ACRE’s new website will be going live shortly and this will bring information and news about all our services and projects into one place. We are also taking this opportunity to refresh our branding so you will see big changes in this too shortly.

Please ensure you have bookmarked our website address for future reference. The new site will be launched on 14 July 2021 and you may need to refresh your web browser on this date to see the new site and branding.

Rural Economy Toolkit

The Rural Economy Toolkit was launched on 12th November 2020 and has been devised by the Institute of Economic Development and the Rural Services Network. It aims to be a guide for those attempting to raise rural relevance in the economic agenda.

The Rural Economy Toolkit works to determine the issues rural economies are facing which prevent them from gaining full recognition, reviews policy drivers which affect rural economies, provides case studies and examples, and identifies and summarises the key steps to ensure rural economies remain in the national narrative.

Read more from the Rural Services Network.

Download the Rural Economy Toolkit.

Community Business Renewal Initiative

There are numerous new funding opportunities that have become available in November for rural areas. The Rural Services Network have compiled a round-up of funding opportunities.

A potential funding scheme of interest is Power to Change’s ‘Community Business Renewal Initiative’ which aims to support community businesses in response to Covid-19. There are a number of funds available through this initiative that will provide grants to community businesses affected by Covid-19 in order to help them renew and rebuild their business and remain financially viable.

This initiative includes:

Find out more about which funds are currently open for applications.

Countryside Productivity Small Grant scheme (CPSG) Round 3 launched!

Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme Round 3 applicants can apply for funding towards specific items of equipment listed at Annex 3 of the Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme handbook –

All these items have been identified following consultation with industry groups and suppliers as helping achieve improvements in either:Technical efficiency

Animal health and welfare; Resource efficiency, or Nutrient management

What’s happening?

To apply, applications are made via an online portal that can be accessed through GOV.UK which will be open for submissions from 7 October 2020 until noon on the 4 November 2020.

Updated government Covid-19 advice for businesses

The Chancellor’s package of temporary measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19 include the following:

  1. A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs.
  2. A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England.
  3.  Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
  4. Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  5.  The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank.
  6. A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans.
  7. The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

View more details here

Banks Pledge Billions to Help SMEs Impacted by Coronavirus

Private lenders are making funds available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including £2 billion from Lloyds Banking Group and £5 billion from NatWest.

Lloyds Banking Group has announced that it has allocated up to £2 billion to ensure the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to additional finance to overcome any impact to cash flow in relation to coronavirus.

It is anticipated that a sustained and wide-scale outbreak in the UK will impact businesses and in particular their cash flows, as interruptions to their supply chain or significant employee absence will severely impact their ability to generate sales and result in reduced revenues.

The bank’s Relationship Managers speak to nearly 5,000 small businesses each week and have already reached out to more than 10,000 SMEs to discuss any concerns they already have on the potential impact a sustained COVID-19 outbreak may have on their business.

This additional finance, which has now been confirmed for small business customers with up to £25 million turnover, will include the removal of certain fees and the possibility of payment holidays for the worst affected.

David Oldfield, group director, commercial banking, Lloyds Banking Group, said:

‘As our customers face … uncertainty, we want to provide reassurance to them that, if needed, we are here to help with additional working capital to get them through temporary interruptions to their business and to their cash flow.’

As the impact of the coronavirus outbreak begins to directly impact more businesses, NatWest has also outlined the support it will provide to SMEs across the UK, including a £5 billion Working Capital Support extension to its Growth Funding Package, ongoing support and practical advice for businesses.

NatWest is committed to helping SMEs thrive and achieve their potential in all economic climates. This new funding builds on the targeted support the bank offered to SMEs through flooding and Brexit readiness as they adapt to the rapidly evolving impacts of the coronavirus on the UK economy.

The package will help SMEs across all sectors and where there is the greatest disruption and need. The support includes the following components:

  • An additional £5 billion for working capital support that meets the needs of SMEs.
  • Loan repayment holidays.
  • Temporary emergency loans with no fees.
  • The Bank’s Relationship Managers based in communities across the UK will proactively speak to business customers offering help and support as they form their plans to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.
  • Continued work with the Government, British Business Bank and UK Finance to understand the evolving impacts and appropriately support SMEs.

Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest, commented:

‘The ongoing uncertainty that the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses are experiencing is unprecedented even by recent standards.

‘While many of our customers are yet to feel the direct impacts of coronavirus, I want NatWest to have the right support in place, so we are there to help our SME customers when they need us most.’

Government funding gives village halls a new lease of life

The Times has reported that village halls are enjoying an unexpected resurgence amidst widespread set-backs for shops and other rural services.

Community halls that have been adapted have enjoyed renewed popularity by offering the space for coffee shops, concerts, yoga, outreach post offices, pop-up pubs, cinema evenings alongside traditional activities such as pre-schools and Women’s Institute meetings, life events and community events

The Government introduced a £3 million grant scheme for the refurbishment of village halls April last year and so far 21 halls have received grants, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In Quatt, a village in Shropshire with a population of 200, the hall has managed to stay relevant by offering a wider range of activities. Stephanie Hinton, hall secretary, said that the building, which dates back to 1908, is used by the model train group as well as for fitness classes including pole dancing.

In a bid to tackle isolation following the closure of the local shop and Post Office, a community group in Oxfordshire has opened a bustling café in their village hall selling homemade food, local produce, wine and refills for soap and shampoo bottles, all raised from donations and staffed by volunteers. The hall now has a space for table tennis, pilates, a film club, a sewing group and the local Women’s Institute.

Full article:

The Times – Pole dancing and pop?up pubs give village halls a new lease of life

New Funding for Entrepreneurs Setting up Rural Firms

Funding is being offered to help entrepreneurs start new businesses in rural areas of the UK.

Forest Holidays has partnered with the Prince’s Countryside Fund to create the new Rural Start-Up Fund, with the aim of supporting new business ventures in rural areas of the UK. The scheme is intended to help entrepreneurs overcome the challenges associated with setting up and working in rural settings.

A total of £5,000 is available in 2020, to be awarded to one winning business or shared between a number of rural start-ups. In addition to financial support, winners will have the opportunity to receive mentoring support from a member of the Forest Holidays team for 12 months.

Entrepreneurs who are embarking on a new business venture in rural areas of the UK will be eligible to apply. Applicants must be able to demonstrate how their business will, in some manner, support rural communities, promote conservation of the countryside or support rural sustainability.

Bruce McKendrick, Chief Executive Officer of Forest Holidays, said:

“Inevitably, one of the biggest barriers to setting up a new business is the initial financial commitment and business support needed.

“Our new start-up grant programme aims to give entrepreneurs and start-up businesses the help required to overcome these initial challenges to grow their business locally.”

The deadline for applications to be submitted is midday on Friday 6 March 2020.