Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

Don’t let funding opportunity slip by

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.

One of the problems is that the names of the various delivery groups do not necessarily tie in with geographical boundaries – in fact some have decidedly non-geographic names such as Fieldfare, covering the rural areas of East Hampshire, Winchester City, and Eastleigh councils together with some parishes from Basingstoke and Deane and Fareham council areas.

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.

Schemes that are eligible vary 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. However, LEADER in its current phase lasts until 2021 and it’s important that those with potentially qualifying schemes do not neglect its possibilities.

The slow 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. The 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 groups, can be found by clicking here.

Christopher D'OlleyMRICS

Partner

Christopher D'Olley is a Rural Partner in the Winchester office. He is a Chartered Surveyor and Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, with over 30 years experience. Work undertake...

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