Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2014-2020 Stage 2: Final Proposals

Stage 2 document setting out the final proposals for the new rural development programme period (2014-2020).

Section 14: Leader

288. Since the early 1990s, the EU has pioneered LEADER, a bottom-up, partnership based approach to rural development. LEADER retains a distinctive niche to support multi-sectorial community-based development. LEADER articulates upwards to EU territorial development policy whilst at the same time enabling individuals, communities and businesses to come together to design and implement local development strategies.

289. The LEADER approach is about proactive 'animation' ('animating a territory') and developing links between actions for the development of the rural economy. In this way the LEADER approach builds social and economic capital. LEADER is also about the added value that flows from the bottom-up and partnership approach with better identification of local needs and local solutions, more engagement on the part of local stakeholders and greater scope for innovation.

290. LEADER is characterised by seven features (diagram C below) designed to help 'rural actors' consider the long term potential of their local area.

Diagram C: Features of LEADER

Diagram C: Features of LEADER

LEADER 2007 - 2013

291. Under the current programming period the LEADER approach was adopted by 20 LAGs across almost all of rural Scotland (under the SRDP) + 11 Fisheries LAGs (under the European Fisheries Fund) covering most of the coastline.

292. 31 Local Development Strategies (LDS) currently focus actions that support rural development and fisheries interests across Scotland based on priorities identified by communities and businesses.

293. This was the first time that LEADER was delivered under an EC Rural Regulation. Delivery of LEADER in the current SRDP has been characterised by several key difficulties: On-going issues with the management and control regime as part of the wider SRDP, resulting in a local delivery method dominated by processes; the resultant need for changes to reduce risk (through updates to guidance, claims processes etc); and, LEADER being widely regarded as a rural communities grant scheme rather than an integrated territorial development tool on a local level.

294. Despite the issues above, LEADER has delivered multiple outcomes with huge diversity and community/business buy in across the 2,200+ initiatives supported across rural Scotland since 2007. These include areas such as food, tourism, transport, digital, access, biodiversity, landscape, culture, health, employment, leisure, youth, services, regeneration and historic environment. The development and delivery of these measures has also contributed significantly to enabling capacity in rural areas.

LEADER 2014 - 2020

295. LEADER 2014 - 2020 includes many of the features of the previous programmes, including its distinctive locally led approach. However, it will be important to build on the experience from the previous Programmes. For that reason:

  • Greater cohesion has been encouraged through the invitation to both Rural and Coastal areas to submit Expressions of Interest for the preparation of a single LDS. Prospective partnerships have also been invited to consider the inclusion of larger towns where such towns have a coherent relationship with their rural hinterland.
  • Steps are being taken to tackle the process issues so that all players can enter the new programme confident of the eligibility rules which will apply throughout the period.
  • Although remaining community led there will be a particular emphasis on coherence locally, in particular linkages between LEADER, the work of Community Planning Partnerships and the local implementation of other EU and national funds.

296. We intend to ensure that (whilst respecting the bottom-up approach which is core to the development of individual actions) sufficient guidance is available to set a clear framework which can mobilise local actors to allow the LEADER approach to make the most difference and added value.

297. The following sets out what we would expect to see addressed and evidenced in the LDS and the structure which should be followed:

1. Area covered by the strategy and population number.

2. Analysis of the development needs and opportunities of the area through a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.

3. Description and objectives of the strategy:

  • clear and measurable (SMART) output and result objectives;
  • coherence of the strategy with the other relevant programmes under the funds in the Common Strategy Framework and EU 2020;
  • co-ordination with other local/regional/national actions; and
  • set out objectives and proposals for co-operation at Scotland, UK and at transnational level.

4. Description of the process for engagement in LDS preparation and implementation. The preparation should be as broadly-based and inclusive as possible. It should:

  • demonstrate how everyone who lives and works in the area has the equal opportunity to participate in the development of the LDS;
  • set out how the LAG will collaborate with key partners among different parties with clarity about respective roles for 2014 - 2020;
  • set out a plan about how everyone who lives and works in the area has the opportunity to be involved in the area's development (LDS implementation);
  • state how the potential to innovate and networking will be realised; and
  • include a communications plan.

5. Turning the objectives into practical actions:

  • set out how the LAG will implement the strategy using a variety of different funds and other financing channels. (e.g. partners, local, national public/private funds);
  • elaborate on the mechanisms that will allow LAGs to work with third parties (e.g. ESF/ERDF) to maximise opportunities for shared priorities.
  • set out clear indicators for monitoring progress against objectives and an action plan for the implementation; and
  • set out specific objectives for measures that address gender inequalities and young people and, if required, measures targeted at different population groups.

LEADER budget allocation

298. LEADER has a ring-fenced minimum spending requirement of 5% of SRDP spend. Based on budget figures presented in this document, that will entail a budget of £66 million being invested in community driven initiatives across rural Scotland over the next programme period.

299. In order to build on the potential for LEADER to be a key community led delivery route there is a need to ensure that the flexibility on activity is matched by sufficient resource capacity.

Priorities for LEADER

300. LDS should reflect what comes out of the engagement with businesses and communities during the preparation of the strategies for rural and marine (where appropriate) funds. But strategies must also reflect the priorities of the EU 2020, the Partnership Agreement and the relevant programmes. There is also an expectation that LDS reinforce territorial coherence and contribute to the long term sustainable development of an area (including rural-urban relationships.)

301. Feedback from prospective LDS partners for 2014 - 2020 suggest that there needs to be a focus, above all, on sustainable economic growth which is tied to the priorities stemming from EU, National and Local policies. However this needs to be balanced with any priorities identified through the engagement with communities and business.

302. From a rural development programming perspective this means that LDS must demonstrate how they will meet one or more of the six RDP priority areas and in doing so support innovation, knowledge transfer and cooperation. We would also expect LDS to include actions that release capacity and contribute to:

  • driving community action on climate change
  • enhancing rural services and facilities, including transport initiatives
  • enhancing natural/cultural heritage, tourism and leisure
  • supporting food and drink initiatives (e.g. short supply chains, community food)
  • building co-operation with other LAGs in Scotland, UK and Europe
  • equal opportunities for all in our rural communities
  • sustainable development of fisheries areas (for those areas funded under EMFF)

Next steps

303. Stage 2 of the Local Development Strategy preparation is already underway with 21 groups across Scotland currently beginning to progress LDS under both EMFF and EAFRD (where appropriate). LDS will be refined between now and September 2014 to help ensure that LDS priorities and actions fit with the approved Partnership Agreement and relevant EU programmes in terms of scale, scope and demarcation. Annex D contains further details about key contacts for each area. If you are interested in finding out more and contributing to the future work then please visit or contact the Scottish Government LEADER Team on 0300 244 9281 or email:

Question 28

How would you rate your broad satisfaction with the proposals for LEADER?

Please tick the appropriate box in the online questionnaire.

Very satisfied
Quite satisfied
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
Quite dissatisfied
Very dissatisfied

If you are dissatisfied please briefly outline your reasons (in the space given in the online questionnaire).


Email: Julie Brown

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