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Evaluation of Rural Business Property Support programme 2009-2013: final report
The Rural Business Property Support (RBPS) programme was a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) supported scheme to provide gap funding for property development by rural businesses, for their own use. The programme was run under two separate sub-programmes covering the South of Scotland European Partnership (SoSEP) area and the East of Scotland European Partnership (ESEP) area. The key intended outcomes of the project were: improved productivity and turnover; business expansion; enabling the development of competitive, sustainable enterprises in rural areas; stimulation of increased rural business activity; enhanced rural diversification; and creation and safeguarding of jobs in the rural economy. The evaluation, undertaken by Scottish Enterprise’s (SE’s) Appraisal and Evaluation Team, aimed to assess the delivery of the programme against target outputs and results.
The evaluation involved a combination of desk research, consultations with key stakeholders and telephone interviews with companies supported by the programme.
The evaluation found that the RBPS programme effectively provided gap funding to rural businesses to deliver property development projects that resulted in business growth. Based on revised targets produced in 2012, the RBPS programme successfully achieved its aims and objectives in the SoSEP area. However, it did not meet its aims and objectives in the larger ESEP area and the ESEP ERDF project was terminated at the end of 2011. Despite issues to do with low take-up in the ESEP area, RBPS was successful in meeting its revised outcome and impact targets. By the end of the programme, more than 65 enquiries were received for RBPS and grants were awarded to 11 businesses against a target of seven, with nine from the SoSEP area and two from the ESEP area. By November 2014, 15,561 sq m of business space had been developed, far exceeding the revised target of 4,600 sq m and slightly exceeding the initial target of 14,350 sq m. RBPS addressed a key rural property market failure or feature caused by the cost of development in rural areas exceeding end property values. The programme resulted in the creation of 67 gross FTE jobs, a significant impact for the rural communities within which the supported businesses were based and helping to meet SE aspirations of ensuring regional equity from the support it delivers. The value of gross GVA created in the rural economy as a direct result of the net creation of the jobs is around £2.5 million per annum. Since completion of their RBPS projects, a number of the businesses involved have taken forward further property development without public sector support but advised that this was only made possible through the initial support received through RBPS. For many businesses involved, the value of the programme was about more than the grant for gap funding, it was about the package of support provided, in particular through their relationship with the SE Business Infrastructure project manager.
The findings from the evaluation led to 10 recommendations. These included that: SE should provide clear policy guidance on the minimum threshold for the size of projects and the type and scale of businesses to be supported; promotion of any future rural property support initiative should clearly communicate eligibility criteria and the application process; future delivery of property support to rural businesses should ensure direct contact between Business Infrastructure project managers and the businesses receiving support; a productised rural business property support package should be developed to fill the gap in support left by the end of RBPS; any future productised service should be made available to non-account managed companies; clear guidance should be provided to applicants on the information requirements at each point of the application process and for future monitoring and reporting; clear guidance should be provided for Account Managers and others responsible for promotion of any new rural property support initiative on eligibility criteria; SE staff responsible for development of future rural business property support should build a relationship with Scottish Government and LEADER representatives responsible for development and delivery of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP); and the new property product should be promoted to LEADER officers and a route created for LEADER to refer businesses to SE that are not eligible for SRDP but are likely to meet eligibility criteria for SE property support.
Evaluation (1 MB, pdf)
|Consultant||SE Appraisal and Evaluation Team|
|Theme/Sector||Equity, Rural Development, Support to existing/growth businesses|