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LEADER funding is available to support projects that create jobs, help businesses grow and benefit rural economies. The source of the funds is the European Union, but the utilisation of the funds and setting of priorities is dealt with at a local level through Local Action Groups (“LAGs”). The LAGs are also responsible for determining which projects will be funded, and which won’t. There are five LAGs covering Devon, and four for Somerset.

All funded projects must, however, support one of the following LEADER priorities:

• support micro and small businesses and farm diversification

• boost rural tourism

• increase farm productivity

• increase forestry productivity

• provide rural services

• provide cultural and heritage activities

What type of project would qualify for LEADER funding? Grants are mainly aimed at supporting capital investment, be that in property, plant and equipment, computer software or patent/trademark applications. Each of the six key areas listed above will have more specific details attached to them as to what costs will and will not be funded, so it is important to check the detailed handbook issued by your LAG before proceeding with an application.

Grant intervention rates are typically 40% of the total project cost, with minimum grants available of £2,500. The maximum grant available varies by LAG, and for business applicants could be capped at £35,000 in certain areas, whereas in other LAGs the maximum grant could be as much as £145,000.

Access to the LEADER funding is available across most of Devon and Somerset, with the typical exception of the larger towns and cities in the region – which is understandable given the rural focus to the fund.

Given the current uncertainty surrounding the future of European funded grants, it is important to move quickly to be certain of benefiting from this grant program. LAGs are still able to approve projects for funding, although this currently only applies up to the date of the Autumn Statement (23 November).

For further information on how we can give your application the best chance of success, contact Chris Hill on 01392 288555.