Community-Led-Local-Development takes the lead in supporting Scotland's rural population

    Posted on 20 July 2020

    A review of the Scottish LEADER programme has been published by SRUC.

    The LEADER programme is shaped by the principles of Community-Led-Local-Development (CLLD), proposed by EU’s Member States, and then implemented at a local level by Local Action Groups (LAGs), who inform the creation of their own Local Development Strategy.

    In the first review into the legacy and impact of the programme in Scotland, since LEADER launched in 1991, researchers from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have recommended continued support for decision-making about local funding to remain embedded in rural communities.

    They said in the long-term, LEADER should continue as part of a new rural and agricultural support system to be introduced after the Brexit transition period.

    The researchers, from SRUC’s Rural Policy Centre, warned that without a dedicated LEADER-style programme in the future, there was a risk the legacy of the programme would be curtailed, which in turn could potentially undermine the objective of sustainable, inclusive growth across Scotland.

    Since it was introduced in Scotland, LEADER has funded 6,194 projects resulting in investment of more than £500 million in community development. Between 1994 and 2013, it created 3,224 jobs and 1,968 new businesses (including social enterprises).

    Geographical coverage of the initiative has increased over time, and in the current programme (2014-20), 87 per cent of Scotland’s rural population - almost two million people - are covered by a Local Development Strategy.

    Rob McMorran, Rural Society Researcher at SRUC and co-author of the report, said: “This research was completed at an important time – pre-Brexit – to inform how the LEADER approach will continue in Scotland in the future, outside the EU.

    “The report identifies the key achievements and impacts of LEADER, including investment in local economies and employment creation, as well as identifying the current key challenges for the programme in Scotland.

    “These findings will help inform debates around the future of the LEADER programme and feed into the work at local, regional and national levels relating to the future of community-led local development in Scotland.

    “The report recognises the importance of the programme to Scottish communities and outlines proposals on possible future options for LEADER (or a LEADER-like model) at a period of considerable uncertainty relating to post-Brexit policy.”

    The report, which is published on SRUC’s website, was commissioned by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS).