During 2011, the European Commission approved a change in the maximum co-funding rate from 55% to 85% in respect of Leader. This has had the effect of reducing overall funding available under the programme. The overall value of the Leader elements of the Rural Development Programme is currently €370 million. Of that up to 20% can be spent on administration, leaving a minimum of €296 million available for projects and animation activities. Several local development companies have indicated that they will spend less than the 20% allowed under the regulations for administration and this money can be diverted into funding for projects.
To date €285.5 million has been committed with a further 30 projects to the value of €9.1 million still under assessment. My Department is in ongoing contact with the relevant development companies to resolve outstanding issues as quickly as possible. These issues can be procurement or planning or whatever. I expect that this process will be finalised in the coming weeks. In addition, projects to the value of €1.8 million are currently under appeal.
Under EU regulations expenditure can continue under the programme up to the end of 2015. However, I anticipate that most local development companies will complete their expenditure before the end of 2014, with a small number completing them in early 2015.
The total project spend under axes 3 and 4 of the programme is currently €175 million, which represents 59% of the estimated project funding available. In addition, I anticipate that up to a further €8 million will be spent on projects before the end of 2013. The LDCs also administer a food measure under axis 1 of the programme. To date almost €2.2 million has been committed under this measure with expenditure of €318,172.