See below for the most frequently asked questions. Please contact us if you still have any questions after reading this page.

Does the Rural Business Growth Service only work with small businesses?

Your trading business must be a micro, small or medium sized enterprise of up to 250 employees and have either an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro. OR an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro.


Company Category Staff Headcount Turnover OR Balance Sheet Total
Medium-Sized < 250

≤ € 50 m

≤ € 43 m
Small < 50 ≤ € 10 m ≤ € 10 m
Micro < 10 ≤ € 2 m ≤ € 2 m

What is the geographical coverage of the programme?

In order to access support, your business trading address must be located in a rural area of the North of Tyne Combined Authority geography. In order to check your location is eligible please use the map. 

Do you only work with certain business sectors?

If you operate in one of the following sectors, unfortunately you are not eligible for support under the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. 

  • Agriculture
  • Fishery and aquaculture
  • Retail
  • Banking
  • Insurance
  • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • Construction or decommissioning of nuclear power stations
  • SMEs which meet the State aid definition of “an undertaking in difficulty” are no longer excluded. ERDF rules allow such SMEs to be supported where State aid regulations permit – you will need to discuss this with us.  
  • Provision of local social welfare facilities e.g. hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, fire stations, child-minding facilities, sports facilities, parks, public libraries.
  • Building and renovation of housing.
  • Major infrastructure in private sector ports.
  • Provision of public services or activities to supplement public services e.g. social housing, school age education.

What support can I get from this service?

Your individual tailored programme of support will be diagnosed, developed and managed by one of our Rural Enterprise Specialists, in association with our pool of procured specialists who can offer guidance in the more technical areas of business planning such as:

  • Resilience Planning 
  • Cashflow and financial forecasting
  • Taxation and exemption
  • International trading - practice and law
  • Market opportunities and demand
  • Supply chain efficiencies and requirements
  • State Aid guidance
  • Procurement advice
  • Sales Strategies
  • Funding Requirements
  • Succession Planning 

If you are looking for support in an area not listed above, we may be able to help identify other suitable avenues of support for you. 

I am interested in the grant scheme, can I apply online?

You need to register to our programme first to establish if you are eligible for our support. One of our Rural Enterprise Specialists will be in touch following an assessment of your eligibility. Once this has been confirmed they will discuss whether the grant scheme is suitable for your business.

Do I have to pay for this service?

No – our service is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020, and the North of Tyne Combined Authority. There is no cost to you in registering and accessing our programme of support. 

I need some business support but I don’t necessarily know what to access first, can you help?

Absolutely. Once you have registered with us, and eligibility is confirmed, one of our Rural Enterprise Specialists will spend time getting to know your business. They will carry out a diagnostic and identify areas which you may want to focus on to enable your business to grow. We provide a tailored support programme, not an off the shelf package. 

Are you operating as normal during the Covid19 pandemic?

We have adapted our programme to ensure the safety of our staff and clients is maintained. We are delivering our 1:1 support via online video conferencing. Where required, and if deemed to be appropriate we can carry out face to face meetings providing risk assessments are prepared, and that all appropriate health and safety guidance has been met. As the situation changes frequently, we are constantly reviewing our procedures. We are conscious that many businesses need our help more than ever, and we are keen to maintain our high level of delivery and customer service by utilising the latest technology in online meetings.

I have received support before from a funded programme, how do I know if I am able to access support from the Rural Business Growth Service?

The total value of support must not have exceeded the De Minimis Aid (State Aid) maximum threshold of €200,000 (approx. £170,000) of aid over any continuous period of 3 fiscal years. Potentially, any funding and/or services you may have received from a public body will count towards the threshold. We ask you to complete a State Aid declaration when you register to our programme. You will need to obtain details of support your business has received in the past so you can declare this on the form. 

Can I speak to someone before I register? 

If you are not sure on your eligibility, or whether the programme is right for you, please get in touch by sending us an email or giving us a call. You can contact us here

I have registered, what happens next? 

Your application will be reviewed by a Rural Enterprise Specialist who will assess the eligibility of your business based on the information that you have provided. A member of the team will be in touch in due course.

I am ineligible for support, but I still need help, who can I speak to? 

If you are based in the North East region then you can find out about other business support programmes on offer throughout the region by visiting The North East Growth Hub

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