Welcome to the April 2018 issue of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds Programme Bulletin. This month, alongside the usual updates from across our Programmes, we feature a major milestone for ERDF and an update regarding the ESF and ERDF communications survey.
The ERDF programme has crossed a major milestone of 500 projects with 512 now legally committed at an overall value of over £1,347 million.
Jake Berry, MP for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, said: "Approving over 500 projects is a huge achievement for the European Regional Development Fund ensuring that a wide variety of projects across the country have access to public funds helping new and existing businesses to reach their full growth potential contributing to a stronger economy."
Some recently approved projects that brought us up to the 500 mark will be featured in the next edition of this bulletin.
Latest Programme News
ERDF calls/projects update
69 project calls covering most Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas of England for priority areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 are currently live on the funding finder - the majority close on 20 April 2018.
We have legally committed £1,347 million of ERDF across 512 projects, with a further £1,084 million of applications currently under consideration (figures correct as of end of February 2018).
ESF calls/projects update
Programme implementation is progressing; to date the current ESF commitment is £1.4 billion, 46% of the total allocation. There are 140 Direct Bid Funding Agreements totalling £396 million and 150 CFO Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) valued at £1 billion. ESF Funding Agreements for Technical Assistance are valued at £21.4 million.
There are currently two open ESF project calls for Leeds City Region LEP area and one call for National Technical Assistance. The ESF Managing Authority is arranging discussions with LEPs to identify requirements for calls. It is intended that these calls will be launched towards the end of April.
EAFRD calls/programme update - RDPE Growth Programme
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has received 921 expressions of interest for the national calls opened in January 2017. The RPA and local partners continue to work together to assess these against local strategic priorities. Following assessment, invitations to submit a Full Application have been issued to 630 applicants. To date, 224 projects have responded, with 91 securing funding worth £16.5 million. The total amount paid to projects who have completed all activity stands at £6.6 million. This funding has supported the creation of 105 full time equivalent jobs. In addition, seven applications have been submitted by Local Authorities to the rural broadband infrastructure offer with one contract awarded to date for £10.5 million.
LEPs have been offering a series of workshops across the country for people interested in finding out more about the Growth Programme. Details of these workshops can be found by emailing GPEnquiries@rpa.gsi.gov.uk
Further details of Growth Programme activity can be found on the RPA Twitter account @Ruralpay and the National Rural Network Twitter account @RDPENetwork. The RPA can be contacted on 0300 0200 301 for more details about the scheme.
To access the funding finder tool, where all calls can be searched/filtered by name, status (open/closed), type (priority area), location and funding source visit https://www.gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds
There have been no published changes to ESF guidance this month. Guidance is currently under review and a further update will be given in the next full issue of this bulletin.
There have been four Action Notes issued - these can be viewed on GOV.UK.
- 012/18 -Stipends and Bursaries in the ESF 2014-2020 Programme – issued 14 March 2018
- 013/18 National Technical Assistance call – Existing TA Projects - issued 19 March 2018
- 014/18 Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) holding response – issued 22 March 2018
- 015/18 Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) update – issued 29 March 2018
Guidance updates related to ERDF, including changes to the Full Application Form and the new Technical Assistance Target Template, can be found within the latest Practitioner Network bulletin.
Guidance on EAFRD can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme
Draft Withdrawal Agreement published
On 19 March, Government and the European Commission published the draft withdrawal agreement which translates the December joint report into legal text and marks an important step towards finalising the full Withdrawal Agreement by October.
The agreement reaffirms the commitment to continued UK participation in EU programmes financed by the Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2014-2020 until their closure. This means that, subject to final agreement, we will remain in the 2014-2020 ESI Fund programmes until they close – click to see the Draft Withdrawal Agreement at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-withdrawal-agreement-19...
ERDF and ESF Communications Survey – top-line results and planned actions
Back in January and February 190 partners and stakeholders completed the ERDF and ESF Communications Survey. We are very grateful for this valuable feedback and have already started to implement some of the many suggestions, ranging from additional detail being added to updated versions of key documents (pinpointing what changes have been made) to extending the use of project case studies across our various platforms. A full report featuring a set of actions and areas for review has been drafted and will be delivered on over the coming months. We will work with the ESIF Communications National Sub-Committee on this, reporting back to the Growth Programme Board in the summer.
ERDF 2018 targets and key deadlines
2018 is a critical year for ERDF programme targets.
Our N+3 expenditure targets must be met or funds are automatically de-committed from the England ERDF Programme.
Our 2018 Performance Framework Targets (both spend and outputs) must be met - under-performance may result in reductions/loss of ERDF in underperforming priority axes.
The timescales are tight - in order to conduct the required checks/authorisations at both managing and certifying authority level before submitting payment applications to the European Commission to meet its fixed deadlines – all project claims must be submitted / checked / authorised and finally, paid by early November 18.
Our operational experience indicates that this will be extremely challenging – and can only be achieved by ERDF grant recipients and the managing authority working closely together to maximise the amount of compliant, eligible ERDF spend defrayed and claimed in line with the Commission’s timetable. This is wholly dependent on:
- the submission of complete and accurate claims and supporting evidence
- timely response to requests for evidence to enable desk based checks to be conducted (including spend outputs and procurement)
- timely response to any queries/adjustments required
- prompt submission of required procurement evidence
ERDF claims for quarter end June 2018 will be particularly important to determine progress towards the targets.
Given the tight timescales for the submission of the final 2018 payment application, contract managers will be contacting projects to discuss the timing of claims in the important run up to the target deadlines. This may mean looking to speed up claims processes with some applicants as early as August/September 2018.
For ESF the service has now been rolled out to all Grant Recipients, for the submission of claims and related activities. So far over 100 2017 quarter 4 claims have been submitted. Development of the service is almost complete; the Managing Authority is currently considering the most effective way of utilising E-CLAIMS, for applications and Project Change Requests.
For ERDF Growth Delivery Team Contract Managers continue to work with applicants to arrange access to the system; this is a phased approach but we anticipate that over 60% of ERDF applicants will be using E-CLAIMS by the summer. A number of applicants are already using E-CLAIMS to upload claims. The payment process within the system has now been automated which will make the actual payment process faster. However, as per the article above on ERDF targets and deadlines, the ability to pay a claim in the first instance is dependent on the correct information being submitted.
RDPE Network March Newsletter
The latest RDPE Network Newsletter was published in March – click to read it at https://us1.campaign-archive.com/?u=9e97eb45b7e61822414056309&id=b003baddd7 This refers to open Growth Programme offers.
To join the mailing list or to contribute to this newsletter email mailto:RDPENetwork@defra.gsi.gov.uk
European Social Fund Project Bulletin
The latest issue of the European Social Fund Project Bulletin was circulated to subscribers on Monday 26 March and contains information on how existing TA project may be able to extend their funding. To subscribe to the ESF Project Bulletin please send an email to ESF.email@example.com with “subscribe to ESF Project Bulletin” in the subject.
ERDF Practitioner Network Bulletin
The latest ERDF Practitioner Network Bulletin was circulated to subscribers on 26 March. Aimed at partners delivering ERDF projects, the bulletin offers more detailed / technical information relating to the programme and is currently circulated to a database of over 700 subscribers
If you would like to sign up please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts and useful resources
Visit the Programme website pages at www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
Follow Programme developments on Twitter @esif1420england
Take a look at our YouTube channel
To subscribe to and provide feedback on this bulletin email email@example.com