LEADER funding

LEADER funding

LEADER FUNDING – THEME 4

LEADER is an 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 Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is financed by the Welsh Government and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

Each county has a Local Development Strategy (LDS) that provides a framework on how LEADER funds will be used in the area. The LDS focuses its interventions around 5 themes. This section is about LEADER funding theme 4, and covers Flintshire and Wrexham.

LEADER funding Theme 4 is about providing specific and tailored support to help communities and social enterprises explore renewable energy sources. This action would include small scale and local interventions which are community led, such as:

  • Raising awareness and providing expert information, advice and guidance on new forms of renewable technology (e.g. anaerobic digestion in agriculture, hydro power and biomass projects), energy efficiency and climate change mitigation initiatives.
  • Supporting initial feasibility and viability studies to explore and pilot the appropriateness and suitability of renewable technologies in specific circumstances/settings.
  • Assisting with proof of concept and trials for community owned renewable technology projects on a micro scale which (if successful) could then be scaled up

Theme 4 also aims at trialling new solutions to climate change and sustainable/renewable energy production and accelerating the mainstreaming of these approaches (in commercial, community and domestic applications) in rural areas.

All actions delivered under the LEADER programme must make sure equal contribution is provided for the Welsh language and the Welsh speakers.

WHO CAN APPLY

  • Local Action Groups
  • Local community groups (including charities and trusts, co-operatives) N.B. all applicants must be a legal entity
  • Social enterprises
  • Community interest companies
  • Mutuals
  • Local Authorities

FINANCE

There is no cap to project expenditure, as long as the funding is sought for ‘eligible activities’, listed below. Typically a LEADER funded project range between £5,000 and £50,000, however sometimes funding has been awarded for project worth over £80,000.

INNOVATION

Innovation is an important part of the LEADER methodology. The LEADER approach aims to encourage local organisations and businesses to test new ways of developing their areas. Different ways that innovation is expressed by LEADER include:

  • Working in new ways: applying new ideas, using new techniques, focusing on alternative markets, bringing diverse sectors and stakeholders together via new networking methods, supporting new priority groups, or finding new solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges.
  • Developing new products and services: these often result from testing innovative ways of working and can be created through the application of new or novel techniques, partnerships, technology, processes, research and thinking.
  • Adapting proven approaches to new circumstances.

ELIGIBLE PROJECT ACTIVITIES

Project activities that contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Local Development Strategy are eligible. The following are examples of eligible costs:

Mentoring – mainly revenue costs for people who can provide particular kinds of support to organisations and groups to help them develop their own skills and expertise. This is a different approach to training.

Training – mainly revenue costs, though some small items of equipment might fall within the scope of training, for the development and delivery of more formalised courses to groups of people. This may be in formal classroom or lecture room type setting but not necessarily so. The subject matter to be covered and the intended outcome would have been determined by a skills assessment of some kind before the course was delivered.

Feasibility Studies – revenue costs for a combination of staff time and consultancy costs to undertake the background research for a specific problem or issue and the production of a comprehensive written appraisal of the issues, the alternative solutions, the financial costings, a detailed risk analysis and recommendations for the next steps. The feasibility study must also include a three-year forward cash flow projection for the proposal, showing how it will be implemented and funded; a three-year forward business plan for the proposal; details of the action to be taken under the proposal, including all items for which grant will be sought.

Pilot Projects – small scale and time limited activities aimed at testing out a concept or to try an innovative technique to see if an idea could be developed into a full scale realisable project. All information gained from pilot project must be freely available so that others outside of the immediate organisation or LAG can see what has been done and how it works. The project can contain revenue or capital expenditure within the capitalisation limits, which is up to £10,000. Total project capital expenditure over £10,000 is not allowed.

INELIGIBLE PROJECT ACTIVITIES

The LEADER measure cannot be used to provide aid or other assistance that would constitute State aid in respect of a business, enterprise, undertaking or ‘economic operator’ receiving such support. It cannot provide any kind of assistance that would reduce the normal day to day operational running costs of the business, enterprise, undertaking or ‘economic operator’ such as: subsidising staff salaries or giving financial support – directly or indirectly- towards rent, rates, energy costs, promotion, publicity, advertising and/or any other running costs or overheads.

The LEADER measure cannot be used to provide capital or revenue grants or other forms of direct or indirect assistance to commercial businesses. This includes but is not restricted to; capital grants towards buildings and equipment; any form of business start-up assistance; business bursaries; aid assistance through the provision of subsidised goods or services (for example, machinery and/or equipment provided on loan) to a business. Direct financial support; loans; financial assistance for new product development; or other methods of indirect financial assistance to a business, such as marketing for publicity or promotional activities that are free or at a reduced rate to a business, are also not eligible.

Capital expenditure for material goods is generally capped at £10,000. However, lease arrangements can be sought for material goods that would exceed the sum mentioned above, as long as its acquisition is strictly necessary for the implementation of the project.

Please Note: This is a brief aimed at incorporating all the most relevant information needed to get an understanding of the LEADER funding – theme 4. For full description of the funding and more detailed information please refer to the Guidance Notes.