LEADER is a multi-annual programme with a total budget of €250 million to be allocated over the period 2014-2020. While all funding must be committed by the end of 2020, payments can and will be made in subsequent years as projects are completed. This is no different from the situation which applied under the previous LEADER programme. To date, almost 2,000 LEADER projects have been approved for funding of €69 million by the local action groups, LAGs, which deliver the programme across the country. Another 373 projects with a value of €26 million are going through the approval process. Total expenditure to date by the LAGs on the LEADER programme is €50 million. Of this, just over €21 million has been paid out to more than 800 LEADER projects. Given the level of additional projects also approved for LEADER funding, it is clear that the level of project payments will rise significantly in the coming months as these projects are delivered.
A total of €27.2 million has been paid in respect of the administration costs of the LAGs, including their engagement with promoters to develop projects. LEADER administration costs are always higher in the earlier part of the programme as the LAGs work with businesses and communities to develop project proposals.
However, administration costs cannot exceed 25% of a LAG’s budget over the lifetime of the programme. Therefore, by the time the programme is concluded, there will be three times more expenditure on projects than on administration. This is similar to the situation with the previous LEADER programme. The table which accompanies this reply provides details of core project approvals and project expenditure in each LAG area to date. The figures do not include expenditure under thematic schemes such as the LEADER food initiative and co-operation projects. These are delivered centrally outside of the LAGs' existing budgets.