WINCHESTER rural businesses are set to further benefit from millions of pounds of grant funding.

Winchester & East Hampshire Rural Action group is one of five groups to share in £6.1m for 384 projects since April 2009 from the Rural Development Programme for England.

During that time the investment has generated more than 265 new jobs and enabled £18m growth.

Members of the five groups recently met with Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership to explore how they can secure more funding in the future.

David Webb, chairman of the Winchester group, said: “We have seen first-hand how a rural development grant can create local jobs, enable farms to diversify and support local food producers to generate economic growth. We will continue to support projects that offer opportunities for new jobs and that support our local economy.”

Discussions are taking place over the next round of European Union Rural Development funding for 2014-2020.