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GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR CHARITIES PROVIDING HARDSHIP RELIEF

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A£2m package, mainly to benefit farmers and their families who have suffered as a result of the restrictions impos...
A£2m package, mainly to benefit farmers and their families who have suffered as a result of the restrictions imposed by the foot-and-mouth epidemic, was announced on Tuesday 6 November by rural affairs minister Alun Michael.

Speaking at the Plunkett Foundation's 'Social Enterprise in Rural Areas' conference in Shrewsbury, Alun Michael said today:

'This money is very welcome. It will help many in rural areas including the group of farmers identified by Lord Haskins as most in need of additional help. The money will be largely channelled as matched funding through the Addington Trust Fund and other charities that have done such an effective job in running support systems for the rural community. This money will allow them to continue to do that and at the same time help those whom Lord Haskins referred to as 'locked-up farmers' avoid animal welfare problems over winter.'

NOTES

-The department has already provided over£13m to match private donations to such charities, in a scheme that ended in September. This scheme was set up in March to support charities which give hardship relief to individuals and families suffering as a result of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and put those seeking additional supplies of fodder in touch with potential suppliers of fodder. The department matches contributions made by private individuals. It does not provide financial support for businesses. Secretary of state Margaret Beckett announced on 18 October an additional£24m for the Business Recovery Fund, taking the total to£74m.

-The scheme closed at the end of September, and DEFRA has paid claims of over£13m already. DEFRA will now channel the additional£2m in a similar way to these charities to match funding of donations received after 1 October 2001. The scheme will continue to the end of December or earlier if funds are exhausted.

-This scheme is administered by the Countryside Agency. Voluntary organisations needing further information about the match funding scheme or wishing to receive an application form and eligibility criteria should contact the Countryside Agency on 020 7340 2922 or email stuart.mead@countryside.gov.uk

-Lord Haskins' report 'Rural Recovery after Foot-and-Mouth Disease' was published on 18 October, and the secretary of state announced a£24m extension to the Business Recovery Fund as an interim response in the house of commons on the same day. The£2m announced today is separate from and in addition to the£24 million extension.

-Alun Michael was the keynote speaker on Tuesday 6 November at the 'Social Enterprise in Rural Areas' conference which took place at the Albright Hussey Hotel in Shrewsbury. The minister spoke at 16.30 and his presentation will focus on the role of social enterprise in rural partnerships. The conference is organised by the Plunkett Foundation, an international development agency which promotes the development of group enterprise in rural areas.

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