Mersey Rural Leader Fund

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.

The Mersey LEADER Team and Local Action Group benefit from a wealth of experience in a range of sectors and are here to help you with your application process.


The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has outlined six priorities for the LEADER programme. A proportion of each LEADER area’s funding has been allocated to each theme, to ensure a fair spread of funding across all types of organisations in the rural area. All projects that apply for LEADER funds must support one of the following:

1) Increasing Farm Productivity
2) Micro/Small Enterprises and Farm Diversification
3) Rural Tourism
4) Rural Services
5) Culture & Heritage
6) Increasing Forestry Productivity

For more information on the priority areas and application forms for grants, please visit here.

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