Rural Communities Testing Change Fund

With the closure of the LEADER programme, £3m funding was confirmed in the Scottish Budget 2021 to test new ways to support and deliver on community-led local development (CLLD) in Scotland.

The funding is available for the current 2021/22 financial year and is not a new fund in itself; it must be used to pilot new approaches to CLLD and the lessons learnt will inform any future funding.

It is proposed that the funding will be delivered in two tranches. As part of the first tranche of funding, two funding streams were made available to Local Action Groups (LAGs). This will allow LAGs to build on the positive legacy of LEADER while using their experience to properly innovate and test change. 

Tranche 2 of the fund, called the 'Rural Communities Ideas into Action' Fund, is being delivered in partnership with Inspiring Scotland. The fund, which closed on 8 October, was open to all community groups as described on the Inspiring Scotland website.

Key to the funding is the requirement to properly ‘test change’: to plan and carry out new and innovative approaches and observe and measure the results to inform any future CLLD funding. In testing change, the lessons learnt from failure can be as valid as success. 

These tests of change have to look at how to better align community based activity to meet community priorities – and to ensure these really are whole community priorities that recognise and respond to particular and distinct local opportunities and challenges.

Projects must demonstrate that they advance inclusion, equality and diversity.

Projects delivered must also support a range of overarching Scottish Government priorities, including:

  • Young Person’s Guarantee, Green Skills & Fair Work
  • Rural Movement & Scottish Rural Parliament outcomes
  • Covid recovery
  • Community wealth building
  • Local democracy and governance, community empowerment
  • Wellbeing Economy
  • Inclusive growth (includes Community-Led Tourism)
  • Net Zero & Climate Emergency
  • The National Islands Plan and Island Communities Impact Assessments
  • National Planning Framework

Projects must be completed by the end of the current financial year – by the end of March 2022.

For more information, download the RCTC Fund criteria and guidance document here.