LEADER Funding Research
Whilst setting up the consultancy, Ted researched the sector and has looked at government and EU support for diversification schemes in England. The LEADER programme (funded by the EU but administered by regional Local Action Groups in many areas) is at the forefront of these initiatives.
Since January 2016 the programme has provided grants in England worth over £56M in total with an average grant size of just over £32K. The largest grants awarded were over £200K, whilst the smallest were less than £2K.
This £56M funded over the past 3 years, is part of the £138M available in the England between 2015 and 2020 under the scheme. Most grants probably represent 40% of the overall project value.
The geographic spread of the projects across England is reasonably uniform, although there seems to be a greater density in the South West and South Coast. There are some notable areas where we would have expected to see projects such as the Isle of Wight and Worcestershire where none have been evident.
Thousands of rural businesses can still benefit from funding
Thousands of rural businesses, communities and farmers have already benefited from these grants and whilst many will have found the process onerous and time-consuming from a paperwork perspective, if their scheme was large enough the effort should have been justified. Many more projects could apply. But don't delay!
Marketing your grant-funded project
If their scheme is consumer-facing, the application process specifically asks how the applicant will be marketing their project to the general public. Most marketing costs such as websites, permanent signage etc. can be included within the application. Applicants shouldn’t assume the mentality of ‘Build it and they will come’. Planning and budgeting your marketing spend should be an inherent part of any consumer-facing diversification.
Will LEADER survive BREXIT?
The big question is what will happen post Brexit? Will the RPA fund a similar scheme in the future? How will it spend the remaining funds as it would appear that the scheme should still have funds available for the next year or so.
This map plots LEADER funded projects granted since January 2016. It’s based on data provided by the Rural Payments Agency up to 18 May 2018. 1,747 projects (worth over £56M) were awarded during the period.
The map shows 1,716 projects as some data was not provided by the RPA. Note that the RPA would not provide the applicant name, or a full project description.