Mersey Rural Leader Fund

Funding for Businesses in Rural Areas

Local Growth Hub - Mersey Rural Leader Fund Contact

Applications can be made by organisations who are in the Mersey Rural LAG area

LEADER is an EU programme that aims to provide funding for businesses and organisations looking to begin or expand their operations in rural areas.

What separates it from other funding programmes is that it is delivered locally rather than nationally, with decisions on how and where the grant money is spent being made by an appointed Local Action Group (LAG) of key representatives from various organisations in the local area. The funding is from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) delivered via Defra through the Rural Payments Agency.

The overarching aims of the programme are to:

  • contribute towards improving the environment and the quality of life in rural areas;
  • strengthen the rural economy by helping micro and small businesses to create and sustain employment within the area;
  • and to improve competitiveness, particularly in the agriculture and forestry sectors.

How much funding is available

The grant amount will depend on:

  • the type of project;
  • the size of the business; and
  • the costs involved (NB: not all the costs of a project may qualify for funding).

Applications must be for a grant between a minimum of £2,500 and a maximum of £40,000.  

Grants will typically be limited to a maximum of 40% of the project’s total eligible costs. However some types of projects can get higher rates.

Who can apply

To apply for LEADER funding the applicant, or their project or beneficiaries - must be in a LAG area.

Applications can be made by farmers, growers, foresters, other local rural businesses and rural community organisations who are in the Mersey Rural LAG area. They can be:

  • private businesses;
  • public organisations;
  • voluntary organisations; or
  • someone who wants to start a business.

Applicants must be a ‘legal entity’ and able to sign a legally binding contract.