We are very pleased to report that HM Government has today confirmed that UK businesses will continue to benefit from European-funded grant programmes until the UK formally leaves the EU. This means that farmers, foresters and small rural businesses in the New Forest LEADER area still can take advantage of the LEADER grant scheme. However it is likely that the scheme will finish earlier than planned; we await confirmation of this date.
The LEADER Programme is a source of capital investment funding to promote economic growth and job creation in rural areas. LEADER grants – ranging in value from £2,500 to £50,000 – can be used to fund up to 40% of investment in certain types machinery, equipment and buildings, with successful applicants being required to provide their own match funding for the balance of each project’s costs. LEADER funds originate from the EU and DEFRA, but individual grant applications are assessed and approved locally by independent panels (known as Local Action Groups) representing all facets of the rural community. The New Forest LEADER area includes most of the rural New Forest, together with some adjoining areas in East Dorset (Burton), Southern Test Valley and South Wiltshire.
Since its launch in January 2016, the New Forest LEADER Local Action Group, in partnership with New Forest District Council, has already awarded grants totalling £110,000, with a further £470,000 of outline applications pending.
We are therefore encouraging potential applicants not to leave it too late to apply. Grant bids cannot be submitted or approved retrospectively for items that have already been purchased or work that has already commenced – and the application process takes approximately 6 months from start to finish – so potential applicants need to plan well ahead in order to submit their grant bids as early as possible in their project’s life-cycle.
The LEADER grant budget is an ever-diminishing pot; so if you are running or starting-up a rural business and are looking to invest in certain types of equipment, machinery or buildings – don’t delay, visit our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk for information on what we can fund and how to apply. Some types of not-for-profit organisations and activities are also eligible to apply for grant support – again, further information is available on our website.