Since 2015, the LEADER programme has been working with rural businesses to help fund solutions to local issues identified by people living in that area. The money is locally controlled, with decisions about which projects are funded being made by the Local Action Group (LAG) for the LEADER area. The LAG is made up of local private, public and civil society representatives. Each LAG develops a Local Development Strategy (LDS) for its given area and this describes what the LAG aims to achieve based on locally identified priorities and actions. The LAG has delegated powers to bring forward, assess and fund projects in line with their LDS objectives, and address local priorities in an innovative, inclusive and locally specific way through planning and implementing their LDS.

Funding under Leader is available to rural businesses, farmers, foresters, growers, landowners, environmental organisations, cultural, heritage and community providers, as well as voluntary and charitable organisations to develop projects that will assist, strengthen and develop themselves and their local area.

LEADER can provide grant investment between £2,500 and £50,000. Grants above this amount will be considered if, in the LAG’s opinion a project demonstrates excellent value for money and will significantly over deliver on outputs i.e. jobs and growth.

The emphasis of the Programme will be on providing Jobs and Growth. This is a requirement set by Defra and each LAG will deliver 70% of project funding directly in support of jobs and growth in the rural economy – using the six priorities for the new Programme. Secondly, it is expected that every project a LAG approves demonstrates it has a benefit to the rural economy.

Our priorities

Support for increasing farm productivity

Support for micro and small enterprises and farm diversification

Support for rural tourism

Provision of rural services

Support for cultural and heritage activity

Support for increasing forestry production


Both Kent Downs and Marshes LEADER and East Kent LEADER are assisted by Kent County Council with Kent Downs and Marshes covering parts of the administrative areas of;

Medway; Maidstone; Ashford; Swale and Shepway (Romney Marshes)

and East Kent covering parts of;

Swale; Canterbury; Thanet; Dover; Shepway and Ashford

Each LEADER project has its own set of local priorities:

Kent downs and marshes leader

East Kent LEader

  • Assist businesses to access the necessary ‘business critical’ infrastructure being developed at LEP and County level and encourage the take up of new technologies to increase productivity and competitiveness for rural businesses.
  • Foster a resilient, sustainable and profitable land based sector.
  • Support the development of a culture of rural entrepreneurship.
  • Strengthen the Visitor Economy in terms of sustainability and performance.
  • Foster the entrepreneurial capacity and resilience of rural communities encouraging innovative ways to deliver services.
  • Help maintain and protect the landscape as an economic and cultural asset.
  • Foster a low carbon economy as a key to preserving the environment.
  • Develop opportunities for multifunctional and sustainable woodland management in response to rising energy costs and promote integrated use.
  • Optimise and promote the use of local produce to grow the market.    
  • Enhancing the markets for local food and farming
  • Enhancing the markets for local wood and forestry
  • Growing the low carbon economy
  • Developing social entrepreneurship & micro enterprise for inclusive rural growth
  • Making best use of natural and cultural heritage