South Norfolk Rural Business Builder Capital Grant

We have funding available to help support some capital expenditure projects for businesses in areas of the district defined as rural by Department for Environment, Food and of Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The grant funding is provided by DEFRA under the Rural England Prosperity Fund.

South Norfolk Council are directing that funding to help support businesses with capital investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas. By capital we mean spending on lasting assets such as building or equipment. The scheme aims to encourage and support capital investment in businesses within the district by providing funding of up to £5,000 towards proposed capital expenditure of up to £30,000 and larger grants towards projects with capital expenditure of over £30,000.

In what situations are businesses invited to submit an expression of interest for funding support?

We will consider supporting capital expenditure projects that will deliver one or more of the following:

  • additionality in productivity in the business or in the efficient use of resources
  • additionality in diversifying into new income streams (this is available to farm businesses)
  • additionality in the carbon reduction of the business, or other positive environmental impacts
  • additionality in making the business more resilient to natural hazards

By additionality we mean “the positive impact or outcome that would not have otherwise occurred without that capital investment”

How much grant funding can be awarded where a case is approved for support, what is the process and at what stage will it be paid?

  1. For capital expenditure projects of up to £30,000 a grant will pay for 50% of the cost of the capital investment being made by the business subject to a maximum award amount of £5,000 per business in the South Norfolk Council area. i.e. the business would need to be making a capital expenditure investment of between £10,000 and £30,000 to secure the maximum small grant available of £5,000.
  2. The smaller grants above will operate within funding windows. Once the funding available within that time window has been fully committed further interested businesses will need to wait until the next funding window opens. We currently envisage funding windows to open in each of August 2023, April 2024 and August 2024.
  3. In cases where the capital expenditure project is for greater than £30,000 a larger grant may be available. Such cases will go to a panel for decision and the panel will decide how much funding will be awarded, but it will be subject to the following caps: maximum funding contribution 50% and maximum award level £100,000.
  4. Businesses are invited to submit an expression of interest for funding support via a webform. Through this process we will collect some basic information about the business and some high-level details of the capital project expenditure. A case officer will be assigned to visit each business to build the business case for your project to be considered for funding. A request for funding will only be deemed to be complete when all information has been gathered to a standard that makes a robust and compelling case for support to decision makers.
  5. That business case for projects of over £30,000 value will then go to a panel of three senior officers working in Economic Growth/Finance to decide whether the council will support that project with funding, and to what extent funding will be provided. Limitations on funding available means that we do not expect to be able to support in all cases, and we may take into account the extent to which the business is already able to fund the project itself.
  6. Smaller grants of up to £5,000 grant award will be decided without needing to go to a panel.
  7. Grants will be paid only in cases where we have approved that expenditure in advance in writing. Please note, grants will not be awarded for expenditure already made or for items bought before approval has been given in writing.
  8. We pay retrospectively on production of receipts for the relevant purchases – showing proof of payment for items of expenditure.
  9. We will pay the costs including any VAT, except where the business is VAT registered, in which case, we will pay costs excluding any VAT.
  10. Under the requirements of our funding provider you will need to provide three quotes for any individual expenditure item of £2,500 or more. This is to demonstrate value for money. Our case officer will collect this evidence from you at a later stage and only once collected will the case be able to go forward for approval.
  11. Where the capital project will require planning consent, the case will only go forward for a decision on approval of grant funding where the applicant has already made a planning application (either full application or paid pre-application).
  12. Once the case officer has received all the information we require to take your case forward to panel we will schedule the case for consideration at an upcoming panel meeting and undertake to get you a decision on grant funding within six weeks.
  13. Progress on your project will be monitored by the Business Builder team throughout – and possibly beyond - the period of its delivery. We reserve the right to visit any grant recipient to ensure the grant has been used for the purpose stated in the Offer Email, inspect records to show that costs have been evidenced and make a formal assessment of the impact of the project. Grant recipients are obliged to cooperate with this process.

Who can submit an expression for interest for funding under this scheme?

Any existing South Norfolk business located in the South Norfolk Council defined rural area (where they are in business premises or operating from a home address), or a business setting up in business premises in that area, which fits the business eligibility criteria below and works with us to provide a robust and compelling case for support.


  1. The business must have its principal business base in the defined rural area of South Norfolk Council area. Please see a map of South Norfolk area. Where the business address is within an area circled in red, or on the Norwich city side of a red line it will not qualify as being in a rural area. For the South Norfolk Council area the areas around the Norwich fringe that do NOT qualify are parts of Costessey/Old Costessey/New Costessey/Longwater.
  2. The business must operate on a full-time basis.
  3. The support through this particular scheme will not generally be available to town or parish councils, charities or community interest companies. Exceptions may be made for charities or community interest companies where the organisation is employing staff and a business case can demonstrate an impact on wider growth, diversification or jobs.
  4. The support is open to businesses in all business sectors (including agricultural businesses looking to diversify into new income streams).
  5. The Council has agreed with DEFRA that we will be provided Capital grants for small-scale investment in micro and small enterprises in rural areas. For this reason, we cannot accept applications from businesses that are too large to qualify as small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
  6. We will not be able to support businesses with any expenditure already incurred before we decide that we can support the project and have communicated that approval to you in writing.
  7. The project will need to be deliverable within the timescales the funding is available. For any project to be supported from our 2023/24 funding all requirements of the scheme will have to be fully completed by 29 February 2024 – including supply of all receipts, information on project outputs/outcomes, compliance with promoting visibility of funding source etc. For projects to be supported from 2024/25 funding the project and all requirements of the scheme will need to be completed by 15 February 2025.
  8. We reserve the right to take into account previous grant funding awards and the funding the business already has access to, when deciding whether we can support your funding request, or to what extent we will support it.
  9. Only once approval in writing has been provided that a project will be supported will any funding be reserved for that project, until that point funding may run out. Funding will be reserved in the order that cases progress satisfactorily to approval, and not in date order of submission of expression of interest.
  10. We will only consider funding capital projects of businesses that are fully complying with all regulatory services (including but not necessarily limited to: licensing, planning, environmental protection, food safety) and are not in arrears with payment required to be made to the council (for business rates, Council Tax – for a home based business, commercial waste collection, or commercial rent if a tenant of the Council). This means that for any existing business use of the premises you must have properly explored with the relevant service directly whether appropriate planning consents are in place, and whether the premises should be subject to business rates – if you have not done so we will make those enquiries prior to approval and it will slow down your case progressing which may mean that funds run out before we can reach approval stage.
  11. Grant funds are limited and subject to approval and availability. There is no automatic eligibility so please don’t assume your request will necessarily result in a funding award.

Evidence and documentation for your application

You will need to provide various pieces of information to complete your application. The web form will time out after two hours of entering, so we strongly recommend that you make sure you have copies of your documentation available to upload before you begin. The information and evidence required include:

  • a copy of the most recent year-end accounts or profit and loss statement. Where some time has elapsed since these were produced, we may come back to you to request more up-to-date figures.
  • proof of South Norfolk Council business address (for example business rates bill or tenancy agreement), or where trading from home address a Council Tax bill (and if you are not the bill payer a form of photographic ID will be required such as driving licence or passport). 
  • high level details of your capital expenditure project, the approximate cost, how you have arrived at that cost, and how the project will deliver additionality in your business.
  • as part of your application process, you will be asked for your Companies House registration number and your VAT number, if VAT registered. Where there is not a limited company in place we will need to see evidence of your HMRC UTR number. Your expression of interest will not be able to be completed without one of these.

The funding that we have available for 2023/24 and 2024/25 is limited and will not necessarily be available continuously.

What are we likely to consider in evaluating the case for providing any funding support?

We are seeking expressions of interest as we are only going to be able to support a relatively small number of projects. We will be evaluating and scoring projects and in doing so the Council will:

  1. Identify your business background, how long you have been trading and the business status or entity.
  2. Assess at the financial health of your business from bank statements, audited accounts and companies house data.
  3. Evaluate your plans, expected outcomes and any market research you have undertaken.
  4. Consider projected project timelines, establish need for planning consent, licensing, long lead times for equipment.
  5. Be keen to support projects that create additional jobs.
  6. Assess what additional benefits the project will deliver, such as increased turnover, reduced energy costs, better productivity.
  7. Look for evidence of sustainability of the business model going forwards.
  8. Assess the matched funding you have available and its source.

Our team will apportion a score for each element, assessing the evidence you have submitted and research into publicly available data, with the following guidelines. In a competitive process we reserve the right to prioritise highest scoring applications, with the best projected overall outcomes.

To start complete the expression of interest webform