News

Success for 6 Orkney projects but evaluation of LEADER funding limited by lack of evidence

More local projects in Orkney are to benefit from the latest round of LEADER funding.

The successful projects are:

  1. Between Islands – A Collaborative Arts Project with the Western Isles and Shetland
  2. Making Yoghurt and Farmhouse Cheese
  3. St Magnus Way Phase 2
  4. Ness of Brodgar Development Project Phase 2
  5. Linkshouse Residency Centre
  6. North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme

LEADER 2014-2020

LEADER 2014-2020 is an EU funded programme, managed  by the Scottish Government through Local Action Groups,  to support local rural communities. As the UK is due to leave the EU on 29th of March 2019 this source of funding will eventually cease.  The whole of the LEADER 2014 – 2020 budget of £77.4 million has not yet  been committed to projects and so an evaluation is underway to determine whether it is worth continuing with similar funding packages.

The limited research (Process Evaluation of LEADER 2014-2020) so far shows that although LEADER has helped to create new employment those applying for funding face considerable challenges with the process. The overall view of respondents is that larger organisations were favoured because of this.

The aim of LEADER was to develop ‘bottom up’ local decision making and to bring together the private, public, civic and voluntary sectors. This collaborative approach was to also extend to Local Action Groups (LAGs) working together . There are 21 in Scotland.

Only 40% of the money allocated to the Local Action Groups’ £77.4 million has been allocated.

You can see from this table how much funding has/has not been allocated and spent.

LAG funding 1LAG funding 2

You can also see from the table how much is spent on administration. LAGs can spend up to 25% of their budget on this.

“By May 2018, 1137 project applications had been submitted to LAGs across  Scotland. Of these 1137 applications only 44% or 495 applications had been approved.   This means that 56% of all applications were either rejected, withdrawn, required additional work, were on hold or in process or still at the draft stage. “

The research so far is limited by the lack of  evidence. Only a few of the LEADER 2014 – 2020 funded projects have been completed ,

only 59 projects of 495 approved projects (12%) had been completed or have submitted their final claims by May 2018″,

and with such a large amount of money so far uncommitted it makes it very difficult to evaluate if it has been successful in its overall aims.

From the limited evidence available by talking to focus groups , researchers feel that LEADER funding has helped to develop the local economy and to bring people together to work cooperatively. The evidence also pointed to the problems with applying for LEADER funding and that many organisations had to employ someone tasked solely with that remit.

Post Brexit the researchers recommend that a decentralised process of funding is continued. This funding would have to come from the Scottish Government. It also recommends that smaller amounts of funding should be encouraged in the future – at the moment  the average project size  is £62,380.

Funding for the latest Orkney projects

A Collaborative Arts Project with the Western Isles and Shetland: Total project costs £123,654 . Orkney LEADER contribution  £41,218.00.

Making Yoghurt and Farmhouse Cheese: Total project costs £60,416.91 , LEADER contribution £30,208.45.

St Magnus Way Phase 2:  Total project costs £16,946.09 , LEADER contribution £8,473.05.

Ness of Brodgar Development Project Phase 2: Total project costs £119,751.00, LEADER contribution £59,869.00.

Linkshouse Residency Centre: Total project costs £192,240.00, LEADER contribution £18,839.52.

North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme: Total project costs £185,323.56, LEADER contribution £66,716.49.

Francesca Couperwhite, Chair of the Local Action Group for Orkney, which determines fund applications, said:

“It is particularly pleasing to see the range of projects that the LAG considered and approved at the last meeting.

“This round has seen projects supporting farm diversification, tourism, archaeology, the creative industries and as well as the natural and cultural heritage of the north isles.

“The co-operation project with Shetland and the Outer Hebrides is an exciting opportunity to foster support joint working and sharing of skills and expertise in music, arts, heritage and crafts.”

The programme is currently closed for expressions of interest but may reopen at the end of November 2018. For more information on the programme visit the Orkney LEADER website.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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