The 2014-2020 LEADER programme has a total budget of €250 million over the lifetime of the programme. €220 million of this has been allocated as core funding to the Local Action Groups (LAGs) who 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 thematic schemes which will be delivered at a national level.
Total expenditure to date under the LEADER programme is in excess of €54.2 million. This figure includes the LAGs' core project costs and administration/animation costs, as well as expenditure on thematic projects.
Overall, since the programme commenced operation in 2016, 2,230 LEADER projects have been approved to a value of €78.3 million, while a further 406 applications requesting over €28.5 million are going through the approvals process.
The LAGs have indicated to my Department that, on average, over 80% of their available project budget will be allocated by the end of 2019. This will place LEADER in a strong position as it enters the final year in which projects can be approved under the current programme. In line with EU Regulations, all project funding must be allocated by the LAGs by the end of 2020 with payments continuing, as required, in subsequent years.
I am satisfied that the LEADER programme has gained strong momentum, both in terms of approvals and payments, since my Department introduced a range of administrative improvements from the second half of 2017. I am confident that the funding available under LEADER will be fully utilised over the remainder of the programming period.