LEADER is a programme whereby partnerships made up of local organisations invest EU and UK Government money in new ideas. Normally operating in rural areas with a population of less than 150,000 LEADER is run to the following seven principles:

– It is ‘bottom-up‘ – i.e. local public, private and civil society bodies, working already in a given rural area come together to decide on investment priorities and the types of project they wish to see money put in to.

– It is ‘area-based‘ – in other words it has a geographical focus

– It is strategic. The partners form a Local Action Group (LAG) which creates a strategy outlining its priorities and what local needs these might help address

– It is about partnership. LEADER is not about one organisation dominating things, and no single type of organisation is allowed more than 49% of votes on any investment made or project funded

– It is about innovation. In short LEADER provides funding to support the trying out of new ideas; these may simply be around a new business idea, or a service not currently available in a village.

– It is about networking. LEADER is not standalone – it provides some money to help projects get going but relies on the LAG to raise awareness of grants, project successes, challenges, sources of additional investment, linkages with other community groups, businesses or sources of help.

– It is about cooperation. LEADER makes investment available to share learning and create new relationships – including outside individual LAG areas and between rural communities in different parts of Europe.

There are three LEADER areas in Kent (with one covering much of rural Medway too) and we at Rural Kent are involved in all three LAGs  – indeed we convened and wrote the initial strategy for East Kent LEADER.

Kent County Council and Sevenaoks District Council are the bodies accountable for operating LEADER in Kent, and providing staffing to support the work of the LAGs. All LEADER funding comes from the Rural Development Programme for England (further information at www.gov.uk/farming-food-grants-payments/rural-grants-payments)

For more information on LEADER in your area please contact:


East Kent: Huw Jarvis, LEADER Programme Manager, Kent County Council: huw.jarvis@kent.gov.uk

Kent Downs & Marshes: Huw Jarvis, LEADER Programme Manager, Kent County Council: huw.jarvis@kent.gov.uk

West Kent: Caroline Lingham, West Kent LEADER Programme Manager: caroline.lingham@sevenoaks.gov.uk


  • Email: info@ruralkent.org.uk
  • Phone: 01303 813790
  • Address: The Old Granary, Penstock Hall Farm, Canterbury Road,
    East Brabourne, Kent TN25 5LL