Carnegie suggest Enhanced Role for Local Action Groups
30 September 2010
A Carnegie UK Trust Report suggests LEADER Local Action Groups have central role to play in UK and Ireland Rural Regeneration.
According to the report entitled A Common Rural Development Policy? the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy should be transformed to provide investment in countryside communities according to rural policy researchers - to secure our food, energy and water supplies into the future.
The Carnegie UK Trust says the CAP should become the Common Rural Development Policy by moving more support to rural development and making more use of the LEADER approach to equip rural areas with development tools for the future.
The researchers say a comprehensive and well-financed policy of supporting rural enterprises and community initiatives alongside farming interests will help address the continuing challenge of low farm incomes and need for new business start-ups.
The report is based on an extensive study of LEADER, a programme which dates back nearly 20 years. In that period LEADER has developed and changed. The report suggests that in its latest incarnation it has become over bureaucratic but its core delivery partners – the Local Action Groups – represent a huge, often untapped, resource for growing communities.
Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, Martyn Evans, says governments must recognise the importance of rural areas as potential drivers for economic recovery:
“Rural communities have a growing role in the delivery of renewable energy and food and water security for our nations, and Rural Development Programmes including LEADER investment have great potential in supporting innovation and building capacity to deliver these goals.
“LEADER cannot be the same everywhere – it has to be about place and what is right for communities.”
Martyn Evans continued: “This is a funding system that has already proven its worth. Members of Local Action Groups and organisations that have been associated with LEADER build up a deep understanding of local economic and social circumstances.
“What we need now is to see LEADER becoming fully integrated into a single Common Rural Policy that invests in communities with big ideas. With severe cuts to public spending nearly upon us, it is an imperative that EU and domestic funding for rural areas are aligned. Ultimately, just as our report says networking is at the heart of local rural delivery, so the rural policy of the EU, UK and Ireland needs to be completely connected.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Key findings of the research:
• Further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy should acknowledge an increasingly holistic and place-based approach that offers all rural enterprises the opportunity to flourish and diversify.
• With severe cuts to public spending, it is an imperative that EU and domestic funding for rural areas are aligned.
• Members of Local Action Groups build up a deep understanding of local economic and social circumstances over a period of time and continuity between programmes ensures this capacity is not lost.
• Rural communities have a growing role in the delivery of renewable energy and food and water security for our nations and LEADER investment has great potential in supporting innovation and building capacity to deliver these goals.
• There are great benefits when LEADER development plans are synchronised with domestic regeneration initiatives and community strategies, especially when delivered by independent and locally governed organisations.
• Networking is a fundamental characteristic of the LEADER approach and is not negotiable.
• In the 2007-13 period excessive control and bureaucracy has seriously hampered timely and effective delivery of LEADER: this has been recognised within the EU and must be urgently addressed.
Carnegie UK Trust works to develop evidence-based policy to support beneficial change for people living in the UK and Ireland. The Trust is one of over twenty foundations worldwide endowed by Scots American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Our current core workstreams are around
• democracy and giving new hope to people who feel powerless about policy;
• examining the role of not-for-profit “civil society” and whether its time for the voice of the grass roots to be heard in political and business decisions; and
• supporting people in rural communities to take charge of shaping their futures.