Question to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Mr Phil Hogan, TD)
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the controls that will be in place at local level to ensure that allocation of the €250 million LEADER funding secured as part of the rural development programme will be targeted, cost effective and efficient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 1st July, 2014.
LEADER, a community led local development (CLLD) approach to rural development, has formed part of the policy framework for rural development in Ireland since its inception in the 1990s. In the 2007-2013 programming period, LEADER was the main method of the delivery of interventions aimed at improving the quality of life in rural areas and supporting the diversification of the rural economy through the design and implementation of Local Development Strategies (LDS). It has proven to be an effective tool for supporting the economic and social development of rural communities by providing resources for communities to support their own development.
The continuation of the LEADER approach in rural areas is critical for the future development of rural Ireland. In this context it is the responsibility of my Department to ensure that all funding allocated under the LEADER elements of the RDP is compliant with the regulatory framework and is expended on the basis of sound financial management practices. My Department is currently working on developing the systems required to ensure that the funding is allocated and spent in the most effective way at a local level for the 2014-2020 period.
To begin, there will be a two-step Local Action Group selection process that will ensure that all entities interested in delivering a LDS has the required capacity to do so. Once the strategy is in place, successful delivery entities will be required to put in place a series of systems outlined by my Department to support their effective and efficient delivery of the LEADER element of the RDP. These systems will include effective decision making practices to ensure that funding is targeted to maximise its impact. Transparent governance arrangements, sound financial management practices and comprehensive appeals mechanisms will also be required in order to support the efficient and effective delivery of LEADER interventions. These systems will be subject to on-going monitoring by my Department and other entities, including audit authorities, to ensure compliance.
I believe that the comprehensive nature of the management systems that will be put in place to support the delivery of the LEADER elements of the RDP 2014-2020 will ensure that the funding will be targeted, cost effective and efficient.