1. What is the Rural Development Programme?
Each country within the EU has a ‘rural development programme’ with the funding provided from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) as well as a component from the relevant National Government (in England this is via the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Defra). Further information can be found at Defra’s website www.gov.uk/rural-development-programme-for-england-leader-funding
The Rural Development Programme provides support for economic, social and environmental development in the countryside and prioritises:
- encouraging strong rural economic growth
- improving the environment
- improving the productivity and competitiveness of farming and forestry businesses and reducing the reliance of farmers and land managers on subsidies
As funding comes from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) it can only be used in rural (i.e. non-urban) areas as defined by Defra.
2. Who is responsible for the National LEADER Programme?
Defra is the Managing Authority responsible for overall management and implementation of the Rural Development Programme in England.
3. Who is responsible for the New Forest LEADER programme?
New Forest District Council (NFDC) acts as ‘Accountable Body’ for the New Forest LEADER Programme, undertaking the administrative and financial management of the programme on behalf on the Local Action Group. NFDC employs the programme staff, although they are largely funded by the LEADER programme.
4. What is the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) role in LEADER?
The majority of the LAG area falls within Enterprise M3 LEP, with smaller areas covered by Solent, Wiltshire and Dorset LEPs. The New Forest’s Local Development Strategy (LDS) has been endorsed by the LEPs as its priorities align with the LEPs intervention rationale adopted for the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) and the European Structural and Investment Funds strategy (ESIF).
5. Which parts of the New Forest does the funding cover?
The New Forest Local Action Group area is based around the New Forest National Park and includes the rural areas of New Forest District Council (NFDC) together with a number of adjacent rural parishes in Southern Wiltshire, Lower Test Valley and a small part of Christchurch Borough Council (Burton Parish).
As funding for LEADER comes from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) it can only be used in rural (i.e. non-urban) areas as defined by Defra. For more information visit our website at www.newforestleader.org.uk
6. Who decides the National priorities for funding?
The overall policy priorities for LEADER 2015-2020 are set by the EU and National Governments. The policy Priorities for England are:
- Support for increasing farm productivity
- Support for increasing forestry productivity
- Support for micro and small enterprises and farm diversification
- Support for rural tourism
- Provision of rural services
- Support for cultural and heritage activity
In terms of the overall expenditure for LEADER, 70% of all projects must directly support the rural economy e.g. through creating and developing micro and small sized (under 50 employees) rural businesses. The remaining 30% of projects will also need to demonstrate that they are contributing to the local rural economy by, for example, increasing visitors to a particular area or providing an essential rural service.
7. Who decides the New Forest’s priorities for funding?
The New Forest LEADER Local Development Strategy (LDS) was developed during 2014 from extensive consultation with local and national business organisations and special interest groups including the New Forest Business Partnership, the New Forest Tourism Association, the New Forest Commoners Defence Association and the local branch of the National Farmers Union as well as a further 37 partners, groups and associations. The LDS can be found at: www.newforestleader.org.uk
In addition the LAG worked with New Forest District Council, the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest Business Partnership to develop the Business Needs Survey which was distributed to 4,000 local businesses by partner organisations in spring 2014.
The objectives and priorities for action for the LDS were agreed by over 100 stakeholders (the majority being small rural businesses and not for profit groups) who attended two consultation events held in July 2014. In total almost 250 individual stakeholders were actively engaged in the development of the LDS, demonstrating the level of engagement and support for the bid amongst the local community.
8. How much funding has been allocated to the New Forest?
The total allocation of LEADER funding to the New Forest is £1.43 million.
A proportion of the total funding allocation must be used to administer and publicise the programme and fund activities such as support for grant applicants as they develop and manage their projects. This will account for a maximum of 18% of the total budget over the 5 years of the programme.
All successful LEADER grant recipients must provide their own ‘match-funding’ contribution to their project. This can vary between 20 – 60% depending on the type of grant recipient and the nature of their project. It is anticipated that this will contribute an additional £1.5 million pounds to rural development activities in the New Forest.
9. Who makes the decisions about which projects to fund?
Decisions about what will be funded by LEADER in the New Forest will be made by the members of the Local Action Group (LAG). LAG members are drawn from private businesses (including people involved in forestry, farming and other rural businesses), the public sector and voluntary/community organisations. This ensures that LEADER funding is being used to fund local responses to identified local needs.
Profiles of New Forest LEADER Local Action Group Members are also available on our website
10. What type of project can be funded?
LEADER is prominently a capital grants programme, supporting certain types of investment in buildings, equipment and machinery which will help the New Forest’s rural enterprises to grow and contribute to the local economy. It is also targeted at micro and small rural enterprises, which are a key element of the New Forest’s diverse rural economy. For more information about the eligibility criteria for LEADER go to: www.newforestleader.org.uk
11. What size grants are available?
Depending on the LEADER funding available, the type of project requiring funding and the nature of the applicant business; grants of £2,500 – £50,000 are available.
All successful LEADER grant recipients must provide their own ‘match-funding’ contribution to their project. This can vary between 20 – 60% of the cost of the project depending on the type of grant recipient and the nature of their project.
12. How long is the funding available in the New Forest?
The LEADER Programme will run from autumn 2015 to December 2020, however as there is a finite budget the grants programme may be fully allocated before this date.
13. What happens at the end of LEADER funding in 2020?
There is no guarantee that the EU will have similar funding programmes available after 2020. If there were, it would only be accessed through another a competitive bidding process.