The LEADER programme (an acronym in French meaning Links between actions for the development of the rural economy) is a European Union initiative to support rural development projects initiated at the local level in order to revitalise rural areas and create jobs.
It is part of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) for Ireland 2014-2020 and funded in part through the Common Agricultural Policy and national exchequer.
In the Irish context, LEADER is included under priority 6 of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) the main aim of which is:
"Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas."
The programme is split into a number of themes and sub-themes that reflect the overarching needs of rural Ireland. They reflect the key challenges facing rural Ireland, with regard to economic recovery, employment creation, tackling social exclusion and reducing the impact of global warming and resource depletion.
In the local context, LEADER is delivered thorough a 'Community-Led Local Development' (CLLD) approach which is underpinned by a Local Development Strategy (LDS). This LDS was the basis on which the funding was initally allocated.
FORUM submitted a Local Development Strategy as part of the application process to become a delivery agent for the new programme in 2016. This followed extensive community and stakeholder consultations carried out over 2015/2016 and a strategic planning process that included an analysis of relevant socio-economic data and a review of current service provision in the region.
All funding decisions taken by FORUM are underpinned by the LDS objectives and priorities.
In a change to the way the programme was delivered previously, applications will now be processed using a two staged approach and through both 'Rolling' and 'Time-Limited' calls.
Stage 1 – Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI's)
Stage 2 – Application stage: Those successful at EOI stage (i.e. the project concerned is an eligible activity and is in line with the LDS) will be eligible to submit an application as part of the second stage of application process.
The submission of an Expression of Interest Form is the first step in applying for LEADER Funding. Expressions of Interest will only be accepted for calls that are open.
Time-Limited Calls will be widely publicised, e.g. on the FORUM website, social media, at information meetings and/or in the local media.
The current funding calls open are:
LEADER Food Initiative Call
Up to €15 million of LEADER funding has been announced nationally under the ‘LEADER Food Initiative’ to support new and existing artisan/small food and beverage producers and is intended to make a vital contribution to the development of local food businesses. Funding is available for capital investment, analysis and development, or training. The types of projects that are eligible for funding include the renovation and extension of production facilities and the purchase of processing equipment, as well as marketing development, competitiveness and innovation. Please note that suitable projects will be selected on a first come/first served basis.
For further information on this funding, including opening and closing dates, click here to visit the Department of Rural & Community Development website.
Expressions of interest and applications for this call are now being accepted.
If you would like to discuss the call and find out more about the LEADER application process, please contact the LEADER team at FORUM Connemara CLG on 095 41116 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org