For the entrepreneurs within the rural community, or even farmers looking to improve business efficiency and diversify, there is a grant called LEADER which is available to fund the creation of jobs, as well as to support and develop the rural economy and businesses.
LEADER is aimed at a ‘bottom up’; grass roots approach, to deliver support to the rural economy, in both England and Scotland. The funding will primarily be for capital expenditure on projects. A 40% grant element is available to businesses, with 100% funding available to community projects. Applications must be for a grant of at least £2,500, with the maximum grant amount varying between priorities.
Money from the programme is given to Local Action Groups (LAGs), which is made up by members of the local public, private and civil society representatives. Grants are awarded on a local level to businesses and organisations who apply, in order to fund projects that help to improve the local rural economy.
There are 6 priorities which LEADER will fund, being:
- increasing farm productivity;
- supporting micro and small businesses and farm diversification;
- boosting rural tourism;
- providing rural services;
- providing cultural and heritage activities; and
- increasing forestry productivity.
The application window is now open until 2020. There is a two stage competitive application process. An Outline Application is initially submitted to the LAG to give a brief overview of the project and grant being sought. If successful applicants will then be invited to submit a Full application, which requires much more in-depth detail about the project. The timescale from grant application to approval and contracting is likely to be at least 3-4 months.
Over the last few weeks there has been uncertainty around the security of European funded grants, following the Brexit vote. With the latest press release suggesting that any grants currently waiting to be signed up are being put on hold until a decision around the funding security has been made. However, local LEADER coordinators have advised to carry on as normal with any new applications, as LAGs will still be able to approve projects, by which time a decision around the source of funding will have been made.
Here at George F White we currently have a number of successful LEADER applications on the go, with some examples of projects ranging from high quality tourist attractions and accommodation through to starting of a new businesses and supporting young farmers. LEADER can also fund new agricultural technologies or any other farm diversification project that would create employment.
If you would like any further advice or support with a LEADER application please contact: