‘LEADER’ is a well-established method of providing EU Rural Development Programme (RDP) grant funding at the local level via a Local Action Group (LAG). It aims to address lagging economic performance, and the social and environmental problems that this causes, in rural areas. Businesses and not for profit groups can identify and develop projects to address these issues and apply for grant funding to support them.
Decisions about what will be funded by LEADER will be made by the members of the Local Action Group (LAG). In the New Forest, 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.
The impacts of LEADER investment remain in the local area and have knock on benefit for other local businesses and communities. Although individual grants can be relatively small, they can be a major contribution to the success of a developing business or a community project.
LEADER is a (French) acronym which roughly translates as ‘Liaison among Actors in Rural Economic Development’. There are 80 rural areas across England (and others across the rest of the UK and Europe) which have been awarded LEADER funding for the period 2015-2020. A list of other LEADER groups in England can be found at the Defra website
As LEADER 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. Each successive LEADER programme has had a slightly different focus and priorities and so the types of project eligible for support have differed.
As part of the bidding process for LEADER funding, prospective LEADER areas submitted their Local Development Strategy (LDS) to Defra. The LDS describes what the New Forest Local Action Group (LAG) aims to achieve with LEADER funding, based on locally identified priorities and actions and is available here New Forest LEADER Local Development Strategy However please note: not all the activities proposed in the LDS are eligible for LEADER funding as guidance on this was being developed by Defra at the time our bid was submitted.