Rural land and business owners should make sure they don’t miss out on funding that becomes available this summer through the LEADER scheme which is operated by various different local action groups (LAGs) across England. That’s the warning from Julian Lambton, a rural partner at the Kendal office of national property consultancy Carter Jonas, who explains that one of the problems with the scheme is that the names of the various delivery bodies do not necessarily tie in with geographical boundaries.
“It’s necessary to do a quite detailed search of the maps to ensure what LAG covers which areas although around Kendal it’s highly likely that any scheme would be covered by the Cumbria Fells and Dales LAG,” says Mr Lambton.
“Money is allocated from the Rural Development Programme for England and grants of up to £50,000 may be available for schemes, particularly those that bring job creation and strengthen the rural economy. There is a proviso that the rest of the scheme must be funded from the applicant’s private funds or bank lending but not through other grant schemes such as the National Lottery or via the Basic Payment Scheme.
“Applicants must also have interim funding for the project in place before work starts as the LEADER scheme payments arrive once the project is completed, which could be a major hurdle.
Eligibility varies around the country. LAGs decide which projects they will fund in their area. This depends on their priorities but all projects must support one or more of the six LEADER priorities to:
1. support micro and small businesses and farm diversification
2. boost rural tourism
3. increase farm productivity
4. increase forestry productivity
5. provide rural services
6. provide cultural and heritage activities
“For some applicants, already struggling with the Basic Payment Scheme registration problems and altered deadlines, looking at the LEADER project may be a step too far,” adds Mr Lambton. “However, LEADER in its current phase lasts until 2020 and it’s important that those with potentially qualifying schemes do not neglect its possibilities.
“The slow rural broadband speeds still endured in many rural areas can make even downloading the maps to show geographic coverage a lengthy process and each body works to its own website design so it’s not always straightforward discovering information for applicants close to or straddling boundaries. My advice is to persevere as this funding really could be a lifeline for projects that fail to qualify for aid in other rural schemes.”
More information, including a boundary map for the different schemes, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/rural-development-programme-for-england-leader-funding
View the whole article here http://www.cumbria24.com/business/2015/06/03/don%E2%80%99t-let-funding-opportunity-slip-rural-businesses-warned