I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 42 together.
LEADER is a multi-annual programme with a budget of €250 million over the period 2014-2020.
€220 million of this funding was allocated to the 29 Local Action Groups (LAGs) who deliver the programme in LEADER areas across the country. The remaining €30 million was allocated for projects which are approved at a national level.
I recently allocated an additional €5 million, originally earmarked for a national scheme, to the top 10 LAGs who were most advanced in their delivery of the LEADER programme. Each of these 10 LAGs was allocated €500,000.
The increased allocations were based on an analysis of the level of funding the LAGs had committed to projects, and the amount drawn down by these projects, as of 20 September 2019.
The LAGs were advised of the selection criteria in early July, when the proposed reallocation was announced.
As I have previously stated, I routinely keep the performance of all LAGs under review and, in particular, the progress they are making in allocating their project funding. Based on the current indications, I am confident that all LEADER funds will be allocated by the LAGs in their respective areas by the end of the programming period.
However, if any additional funding becomes available, I will reallocate it to LAGs who have the capacity to manage the additional funding and who can demonstrate that there is a need for such funding in their areas.