Greater Birmingham & Solihull – European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF) Introduction
- EU funding (ERDF, ESF and EAFRD) runs in 7 year periods.
- The contract for each funding stream lies with the EU Commission and HM Government.
- Each period has a national Operational Programme which identifies priorities and for what the outcomes will be at the end of the 7 year cycle. Operational Programmes show how the money and outcomes will be met on an annual basis.
- All LEPs were asked to produce a programming document (known as the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF)) in Autumn 2013 which is published on the GBSLEP website.
- The proposal is that all 39 ESIFs will be amalgamated to give a national Operational Programme and this forms the basis of the contract held between the EU Commission and HM Government. If either the funding isn’t spent or the outcomes aren’t met according to the operational programmes this will lead to clawback and/or loss of the funding.
- To make sure this happens, each area has a Local Committee which reports into a National Committee, monitored closely by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) . For 2014-20, the Local Committee is known as the ESIF Committee.
- HM Government have issued guidelines to Local Economic Partnerships (LEP) on how the committee will be structured and for the GBSLEP the membership is:
Local Enterprise Partnership x1
Local Authority x2
Private sector x2
Voluntary & social partners x2 (including social enterprise)
Transitional and Overlap area (Local Authority) x 2
Trade Union x1
Higher Education x1
Further Education x1
Employment and Skills representative x1
BIS Local x1
Skills Funding Agency
DCLG x1 (Vice Chair and Secretariat)
- For further details on the draft operational programme which has been submitted to the EU Commission please follow the link
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
- When will the new European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programmes launch?
Government is advising us that the programmes may be ready to launch at the end of
2014 or early 2015. However, it is dependent on the Government and European
Commission agreeing proposals for ERDF and ESF across England, so it could be slightly earlier or later. The launch in the GBS LEP area will be immediately after this has happened.
- When will more detailed information be available?
Once the Government publishes guidance then we will be able to share it on the GBS LEP web site and/or by referring to the Government’s own gov.uk website.
We will update the Q&A paper published on the GBSLEP web site with the latest information when it is known.
- Where can I find out more information?
The EU programme is not expected to open until next year and all the calls for funding will be published on the DCLG (www.gov.uk) website in exactly the same way as they currently do
But if you want to keep up-to-date with progress, you will be able to sign up for alerts which will be available through the Gov.uk website.
As these aren’t available just yet you can sign up to receive the ‘New Programme Partner Update Circular’ which is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Later this year the Government plans to publish detailed information on the ESF and ERDF programmes on the gov.uk website.
- I have an idea for an ERDF project; who can I contact?
Email email@example.com. We’re not able to advise which projects will/won’t be successful, but can provide some pointers. Note also that until the GBSLEP ESIF strategy and England-wide programmes have been agreed by the European Commission, matters are subject to change.
- When can I submit an application for funding?
Once the programmes have been agreed by the European Commission then we anticipate the Government will give us the green-light to launch. We don’t plan to delay launching.
- Where can I find the application form?
Application forms won’t be available until, we expect, later in the year. We anticipate they will be accessed via the Government’s website (gov.uk).
- OPT INS – For ERDF/ESF programmes , should the LEP decide to opt in, that are delivered by the Opt-in organisations, the selection process will follow the Opt-in organisations own published selection criteria, which must comply with open and competitive tendering rules. The Opt-in organisation, not the LEP, will enter into contract with successful applicants.
- Who can apply for ERDF?
The ERDF Eligibility rules are currently being drafted by the Government and we expect they will be available later in the year. However, it is worth noting that ERDF does not fund profit making organisations directly, rather it funds organisations which can, in turn, provide not for profit support (such as business advice, technical, finance (loans/equity)) to SMEs to help them grow. Organisations that apply must be robust financially and have the skills and expertise to undertake the running of a project.
- If I want to apply for funding, do I have to provide match funding?
For ERDF, yes. Applicants will need to secure eligible match funding. Usually half of a project’s funding comes from ERDF, the other 50% from other sources. Volunteer’s time (i.e. in-kind match funding) is likely to be ineligible. THE GBSLEP are still in discussion with Opt-in organisations providing ERDF activity and they will provide the match funding, similar to the 2007-13 programme.
For ESF, the GBSLEP is working too enable access to match including Big Lottery, Talent Match. This is still to be finalised. Opting in to national providers if circumstances change, is still an option.
10. How much ERDF can I apply for?
This hasn’t been determined yet, but there is likely to be a minimum threshold. Guidance will be issued.
11. How long can a project last for?
This has not been determined yet, but guidance will be issued.
12. What outputs and results will I be required to deliver in return for receiving funding?
A key requirement of any organisation receiving ESF and ERDF is the delivery of targets. The Government is finalising its proposals for the suite of Outputs and Results, including targets, with the European Commission as part of its negotiations this autumn.
For ERDF it is expected that the suite of Outputs will be consistent across the 39 LEPs, each LEP will then select the most appropriate Outputs. The GBSLEP ESIF
Strategy (page 41) sets out the expected targets to be achieved, but we are aware range of Outputs, definitions and targets may change over the coming months.
However, page 41 provides a useful ‘initial view’. We are awaiting information from the Government about how Results will be treated for the programme.
For ESF there will be a suite of Output and Result indicators. The primary indicators for ESF are not expected to largely be different from the previous programming period. The core results will look at the number of participants into education, employment and/or training. Note: we are awaiting guidance from Government on Outputs, Results and definitions which may change over the coming months.
13. Will there be less bureaucracy for the new programmes?
Government is working to ensure that the rules and processes are clear for the new programme so that applicants know what to expect; it won’t necessarily be less complex.
14. How are the 2014-20 programmes different from 2007-13?
The ESF and ERDF programmes are both England-wide programmes for 2014-20.
Local Enterprise Partnerships (including the GBSLEP) are playing a significant role in the new programmes. LEPs have been allocated notional sums of ERDF/ESF money for 2014-20. The activities that will be supported by the new programmes are not a straight read across from 2007-13; the activities are based on the LEP’s key objectives for the GBSLEP.
15. How much ESF/ERDF money does the GBSLEP have?
About £239 million has been notionally allocated to the LEP, but until agreement is
reached between the Government and European Commission the amount is subject to change. Also, as the programme operates in Euros, the Sterling amount will vary as the exchange rate fluctuates.
16. Where can I find the GBSLEP draft ESIF strategy?
The strategy can be found here: http://centreofenterprise.com/european-funding-strategy-consultation/
The strategy may change, and it hasn’t been signed-off by the Government yet as it is dependent on the Government first reaching England-wide agreement with the European Commission; this isn’t expected until towards the end of 2014.
17. Has the LEP consulted on its 2014-20 strategy?
Yes, during autumn 2013, an extensive consultation took place over a 3 month period.
18. I have received funding under the 2007-13 programmes; how can I obtain funding under the new programme?
For ERDF/ESF, all applicants will need to follow the same England-wide application procedures.
For ESF/ERDF programmes delivered through Opt-in organisations, applications will go through the organisation’s own procurement procedures.
All applicants will need to ensure proposals fit with the 2014-20 ERDF and ESF programmes. The new programmes are not a straight read-across from 2007-13.
The track record of previous recipients of ERDF/ESF in the GBSLEP area will be taken into account. This includes management and delivery performance.
Applicants in previous receipt of ERDF or ESF funding will be expected to illustrate the results of any evaluation for a comparative activity including need and demand.