Damien English Meath West TD and Minister of state has said he is thrilled to see that details have just been announced of the Transitional LEADER Programme which will come into effect in April 2021. €20million will be made available under this programme to cover both new projects and admin costs of the Local Action Groups such as Meath LEADER. This transitional programme will bridge the gap between the wind-up of the current 2014-2020 LEADER programme and the start of the next EU programme which is not likely to commence until 2023. This means that LEADER Groups such as Meath can now work on identifying and animating potential projects from Jan 1st . With Co-Financing from the EU, LEADER funding has played such an important role in our rural areas since 1991 and funded thousands of projects. Funding will also be provided in 2021 for the ongoing management and delivery of projects still running under the 2014 – 2020 LEADER programme.
What makes this announcement even more important is it will also support job creation, encourage entrepreneurship, and support projects which address the climate agenda and digital transformation. Under this Programme, the grant rate for enterprises and commercial projects will be increased from a maximum of 50% to a maximum of 75% to support enterprise development and job creation in rural areas. I’m also delighted to see that a call for proposals under the LEADER Food Initiative for micro and small food producers will be announced in 2021.
My colleague Minister Humphreys who announced the Transitional LEADER Programme said: “There has been a delay at EU level in agreeing the framework for the next LEADER programme and it now looks likely that the next EU programme will not commence until 2023. This is an unprecedented and evolving situation, but my priority is to ensure that the LEADER model of locally-led community development is maintained without interruption, as committed to in the Programme for Government.
“In addition to administering the Transitional Programme, a further €7 million will be provided to the Local Action Groups in 2021 for the on-going management and delivery of projects still running under the 2014-2020 LEADER programme.”
Minister English concluded, that the “The Department is writing to each of the Local Action Groups with a breakdown of their project and Administration allocations and I have no doubt that this transitional programme will give local communities and enterprises an opportunity to work through challenges that appear through the landscape in rural areas. It’s a very welcome announcement for our local Meath Partnership who run the LEADER scheme.