Deputy Jackie Cahill: only €1.8m out of €10m in LEADER funding spent in Tipperary
Red tape has been blamed for the poor take up of LEADER funding across the premier county after figures released by Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill showed that only €1.8m has been spent out of a fund of €10m in the past four years.
The programme, which is under the remit of the Department of Rural and Community Affairs, runs out in 2020, and Deputy Cahill has accused Fine Gael of failing to prioritise rural issues.
Tipperary Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), a sub-committee of Tipperary County Council, manages and oversees the RDP on behalf of the Department. The programme is being delivered by North Tipperary LEADER Partnership (NTLP) and South Tipperary Development Company (STDC). NTLP looks after Nenagh and Thurles / Templemore, while STDC serves Clonmel and Tipperary / Cashel and Carrick on Suir
“There is a massive underspend within the Department,” he said, describing the figure as “disappointing”. The Thurles-based TD said that the figures were even worse if the administration costs were factored out.
“I blame the Department for paper work and red tape,” he said. “The bureaucracy is unbelievable.”
However, he said that he was confident that the money or the best part of it would be spent before the programme ended.
“More projects are starting to come online and starting to be approved for funding,” he said.
Any unspent funding will be returned to Brussels, which would be a “disaster”, he said. He pointed out that Tipperary LEADER was still open for applications.
A spokesperson for the Department said that the allocation was €10.1m, of which €7.6m was available for LEADER projects. To date, 113 projects worth €3.7m, equating to 48.6% of the project budget, had been approved for funding by Tipperary Local Action Group. A further 15 projects requesting €1.1m are at an earlier stage of the project approval process. Tipperary LAG expects that over 90% of its project budget will be allocated by the end of 2019, with the balance allocated in 2020. To date, over €1.9m funding has been paid out in LEADER funding in Tipperary and the remainder will be drawn down as the LAGs implement the programme and the approved projects are finalised and submit claims for payment.