The 2014 to 2020 LEADER programme has a total budget of €250 million over its lifetime. Some €220 million of this has been allocated to the local action groups, LAGs, which deliver the programme throughout the country. The allocation is used by the LAGs to administer the programme and to fund individual LEADER projects in their areas. The remaining €30 million in funding is available for schemes which will be administered at a national level. This includes funding under the LEADER food initiative and funding to support local action groups that come together to deliver projects on a collaborative basis.
Total expenditure to date under the LEADER programme is in excess of €38 million. Project payments, in particular, have increased significantly in the past year, as approved works are completed and project promoters submit claims for payment. Approximately €13.6 million was spent on projects since the commencement of the programme up to 14 January this year. Over €12.5 million of this amount was spent on projects in 2018 compared with just over €700,000 in 2017. This is a substantial increase in the past 12 months. More than 1,600 projects with a grant value of almost €56 million have been approved for LEADER funding by the LAGs. A further 355 projects, requesting funding in excess of €22 million, are at various stages in the approval process. The progress being made by the LAGs, together with the administrative improvements introduced by my Department, will result in a continued increase in project approvals and payments. As a result, I am confident that all of the funding allocated to LEADER will be fully drawn down during the course of the programme.