Over 130 representatives from Local Action Groups (LAGs) and their Accountable Bodies (who deliver the programme on behalf of LAGs and ensure financial propriety and regulatory compliance) joined Farming Minister George Eustice to mark the opening of the new LEADER scheme in England at a national event in London on 14th October.
LEADER is a well-established approach to rural development which involves local people in deciding which projects should receive financial support in their area. It helps farmers, foresters, growers and rural businesses to drive job creation and economic growth in rural communities. This is one of the first LEADER schemes to be opened across Europe under this Programme and will see 80 LAGs involved in deciding how some of Defra’s rural development funding is spent.
The event involved a keynote speech from the minister as well as a number of presentations from key figures and open and constructive q&a discussions with the minister, the Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Mark Grimshaw and senior Defra and RPA officials.
A number of breakout sessions covered specific issues in more depth. These included a session on how LAGs could network and support each other, and a session on how LAGs could encourage projects that create jobs, develop rural businesses and support the rural economy.
LEADER groups in England began to open in October. The RPA will work closely with these groups to ensure projects, applicants and costs are eligible before passing them to LAGs for a decision. The RPA will also be responsible for making payments to those that are successful.
Farming Minister George Eustice said:
“Small rural businesses are the absolute backbone of employment in our rural communities and at the heart of developing wealth and prosperity in our rural communities.
“Where LEADER can really come into its own is in providing easy to access grant support for bright new ideas and small businesses in rural communities.”
Presentation material from the New LEADER event has been made available to LAGs.
For more information about LEADER or to contact your local group please visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/rural-development-programme-for-england-leader-funding
For any queries on the event please contact the RDPE Network Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org