1. Does my business need to be in a particular area to be eligible?
If your business or project is outside of the New Forest LEADER area, there are other LEADER Local Action Groups across the UK who may be able to help. Details are available on the Defra website www.gov.uk/rural-development-programme-for-england-leader-funding.
2. Will my application be successful?
When you apply to LEADER you are taking part in a competitive process, and not all good applications will be approved. The grant panel will consider a number of factors in deciding which projects to fund and how much grant funding to award. The Applicant Handbook on our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk describes this in more detail.
3. I’ve already ordered /bought the equipment I need; can I still apply to LEADER for funding?
Unfortunately not, because LEADER is a prior approval scheme – you must go through the application process and if successful a contract will be issued, before you commit to any expenditure relating to the approved project. This includes ordering equipment or paying a deposit; this is checked on your bank statements etc. when you submit your grant claim. Failure to adhere to this may invalidate your grant award.
4. I need my project to start next month; can I still apply to LEADER?
All grant applications must go through a formal approval process; this is a requirement of EU funding. The grant application submission and approval process may take several months from start to finish, depending on the timing of your submission. For this reason, LEADER funding may not be suitable for projects with a tight completion deadline. If this is the case, please discuss this with the LEADER Office before applying.
If your application for LEADER funding is successful, we will expect your project to start within 6 months of approval.
5. I have an idea for a business start-up, can I still apply?
We welcome applications from business start-ups as well as established businesses, although please be aware that the minimum grant size is £2,500 (at 40% grant rate this equates to a total project spend of £6,250).
All applicants need to demonstrate their business is viable and how grant funding will help the business to develop. We may ask to see a formal Business Plan and financial projections with your application and you are advised to put this in place before you start the application process– information and guidance on writing a business plan is available at XXXXXX
6. Can LEADER fund the start-up /running costs for my business?
LEADER is predominantly a capital grant programme; funding investment in buildings, equipment & machinery. LEADER cannot fund salaries, running costs, consumables (including packaging and publicity materials). This is because LEADER funded items must have a life-span of at least 5 years. The Applicant Handbook on our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk provides more information.
7. Can LEADER Fund Training?
Unfortunately, LEADER cannot fund training. Instead, support for training, knowledge exchange and demonstration activity for agriculture, horticulture and forestry will be available through Defra ‘s Countryside Productivity Scheme. Please contact Defra direct for more information via www.gov.uk/how-to-apply-for-grants-countryside-productivity
The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) may have funds to support certain types of training activity in other rural and urban businesses. For information go to: www.gov.uk/applying-for-grants-growth-programme
8. If my application is successful, are there any conditions imposed on me and my business?
Successful applicants who are offered a grant will need to follow the terms of the Grant Funding Agreement, throughout the whole period – and for 5 years after the date of the final payment. This will be explained in more detail when a grant is offered.
Successful applicants could be subject to audit visits at any point over the 5 years, to ensure the LEADER grant funded items are still owned and used by the business.
If the terms aren’t followed for the entire period, we may withdraw the grant offer or recover some – or all – of the money paid. The Applicant Handbook on our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk provides more information.
9. When is my grant money paid?
If your application is successful, your grant monies will be paid in arrears once you have paid for the grant funded items in full (although we may be able to arrange stage payments for some types of building project) and they are available for inspection by LEADER staff.
Therefore you need to make sure you can afford to pay for the whole of the proposed project in the short term and will need to consider the impact of this on your cash flow.
10. What other financial resources do I need to have access to?
If an application is successful, a LEADER grant will cover a proportion of the eligible project costs; the funding rate depends on the nature of the applicant business and the type of project – it is typically 40% for business applicants. The Applicant Handbook on our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk provides more information on this.
The applicant must therefore have resources to pay for the remaining eligible costs, and all ineligible costs, with private money, such as savings or a bank loan. You will need to provide evidence when you apply that your contribution is in place.
11. I am a farmer / Commoner; can LEADER fund a new tractor or a new livestock barn?
LEADER scheme rules mean that the costs for ‘standard’ agricultural equipment, buildings and inputs, like animals and annual crops are not eligible.
However certain types of investment on farms which improve productivity, improve the efficiency of use of farm inputs and improve slurry/manure management may be eligible – please refer to the Applicant Handbook at www.newforestleader.org.uk .
Alternatively certain types of investment in farms may be available through Defra’s Countryside Productivity Scheme. Please contact Defra direct for more information via www.gov.uk/how-to-apply-for-grants-countryside-productivity.
12. Can LEADER fund second-hand equipment?
As long as it meets certain conditions it can be included in your project application. The Applicant Handbook on our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk provides more information.
13. I need a replacement for broken machinery; can it be funded by LEADER?
LEADER cannot be used for like-for-like replacement of existing equipment; the grant has to support a significant step-up in performance by the business. It is up to you to justify and explain on your application why this is not simple, like-for-like replacement if you already own similar equipment.
14. Can LEADER fund equipment bought on hire purchase?
Equipment purchased using leasing agreements can in certain circumstances be grant aided however please be aware that grant monies can only be claimed where the title of ownership is with the applicant i.e. they must own the equipment (most lease finance arrangements retain the ownership with the finance company so carefully check any such arrangements). The Applicant Handbook on our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk provides more information on this.
If ownership doesn’t pass to the applicant until after the end date of the LEADER Programme in 2020, it will not be eligible – please discuss this with the LEADER Office before applying.
15. What Licences or Permissions do I need before I apply?
Where planning permission or other legal consents are required before you can start the project, you do not need to have them in place before you submit an Outline Application (the first stage in the process), however you will need to show evidence that you have had initial discussions with the Planning Authority and that the proposal is not contrary to local Planning Guidance.
Planning Permission is however required prior to submitting your full application. This also applies to projects which may create a ‘change of use’ of your residential or business premises.
Please also ensure that any conditions imposed by the planning permission will not delay the start of the project, or restrict the proposed activities of the project itself. The Applicant Handbook on our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk provides more information.
If the applicant business is a tenant and the items included in the grant application are dependent on rented premises in which to operate, we may need to see that you have at least a five year lease. If this is an issue, please discuss with the LEADER Office before you apply.
16. If I apply, what checks do you make?
As well as checking the details of your application, quotations, licences etc we may also check publicly available information on your business and /or directors held at Companies House or via other business information services.
17. I have received other funding for the project; can I still apply to LEADER?
An applicant may not get a LEADER grant if the project depends on using other public money like Big Lottery, local authority, levy board funds, or other Government or European grants, such as Countryside Stewardship. However exceptions can be made in the case of certain types of applicant i.e. not for profit enterprises, please discuss this with the LEADER Office.