By Daniel Hunter

The government has revealed plans for a new £24 million Growth Programme designed to boost growth among the UK's rural businesses and communities.

Applications for the grants officially opened today (Monday) and farming minister George Eustice said the fund is set to give businesses a real boost by supporting projects that can make a big difference to the rural economy.

The £24 million fund will be split over a six year period.

Local priorities have been established across the country meaning that the funding is directly targeted at initiatives that will bring the biggest benefit for those local areas.

Opportunities could include helping people to expand or set up or new businesses, developing new food processing facilities and promoting tourism.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: "By helping our rural entrepreneurs to achieve their full potential, the roll out of the Growth Programme is great news for our rural communities.

"This £6.3 million of funding is going to support businesses, bring high-quality jobs to rural areas, boost rural productivity and grow the local economy.

"Individual grants are worth upwards of £35,000 depending on the individual project and will be offered in 9 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). A further two rounds of the Growth programme are expected in August and September and the remaining LEP areas will be invited over the next few months to apply for grants to help them support their local rural communities."