Welcome to the February 2018 issue of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds Programme Bulletin. This month, alongside the usual updates from across our Programmes, we include a feature on ERDF project press coverage, word on a new batch of ERDF calls and an update for partners on E-CLAIMS.
In the news – ERDF funded projects
Projects supported with funding from the current ERDF programme are receiving positive local press coverage across England. In the past few weeks alone, dozens of stories have featured in local newspapers and online publications including the official launch event of the Midlands Engine Fund in Birmingham (Birmingham Post and other titles) and the ground breaking event for the Darlington National Horizons Centre (a project also supported by the Local Growth Fund) in the Northern Echo. The coverage is not only helping the projects and the broader programme to run more effectively but also shines a spotlight on the good work being done at local level to support local businesses, create employment opportunities and boost local economies.
Other project stories receiving coverage in February included the securing of funding for the rebuild of a Truro theatre (Cornish Times), the launch of Cheshire West and Chester Council's new business support project (Northwich Guardian) and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund investing in a Daresbury sensor design company (Business Cloud).
Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Evening Post featured the news that £134 million of ERDF money has been allocated to projects in the Leeds City Region and the Cambridge Independent covered the REACTOR project launch of a brand new incubator space which aims to harness the power of games to create innovative solutions for human problems.
If you have any upcoming project stories please let us know (or alert us to any press coverage you receive). We’re always looking for opportunities to tweet and retweet about projects and help to spread the word.
Latest Programme News
ERDF calls/projects update
Over 70 new project calls, worth in excess of £300 million, are set to be published at the beginning of March. The calls, which between them cover most LEP areas of England, are for priority areas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9. There are currently five open project calls on the funding finder, with closing dates ranging from 2 March to 1 June 2018.
We have legally committed £1,253 million of ERDF across 494 projects, with a further £1,005 million of applications currently under consideration (figures correct as of end of December 2017).
ESF calls/projects update
Data on the values of MoUs/funding agreements remains unchanged from the December 2017 bulletin. An update on this information will be provided in the next issue of the bulletin.
There are currently no open ESF project calls. The ESF Managing Authority is arranging discussions with LEPs to identify requirements for the next round of calls. It is intended that these calls will be launched towards the end of March.
EAFRD calls/programme update - RDPE Growth Programme
The Rural Payments Agency and Local Enterprise Partnerships continue to promote the Growth Programme to ensure that we maximise the opportunities offered by the £165 million currently being offered for rural tourism, small business development and food processing projects.
The RPA has received 830 expressions of interest and full applications from more than 200 projects; and contracts have been awarded to 79 projects with grant funding agreements worth £14.3 million. So far, the total amount paid to projects who have completed all activity stands at £5.5 million, creating 94 full time equivalent jobs. In addition, six applications have been submitted by Local Authorities to the rural broadband infrastructure offer requesting funding worth £35 million.
Local Enterprise Partnerships are 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.
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, click 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 two Action Notes issued - these can be viewed on GOV.UK.
- Participant Data Schema – issued 30 January 2018
- Youth Employment Initiative – issued 16 February 2018
Guidance updates related to ERDF, including changes to the Output Indicators Definition Guidance and a new ERDF and ESF List of beneficiaries, can be found within the January Practitioner Network bulletin. The next issue, including further ERDF guidance updates, is set to be published in the coming days.
Guidance on EAFRD can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme
For ESF, the majority of Grant Recipients have now been provided with access to E-CLAIMS. Thank you for your patience whilst we completed the necessary preparatory work. Our Contract Managers are in touch with those organisations who do not yet have access and working with you to provide access by the beginning of March.
Initial feedback has been positive, with a number of organisations already submitting claims directly through E-CLAIMS. We are however aware that some projects have experienced difficulties submitting claims. We are reviewing the cause of these issues and considering how best to keep you updated with progress. We welcome any feedback on how best to do this as well as any thoughts on the guidance produced and your experiences so far.
For ERDF our second cohort of external applicants are being brought onto the system now and are working through the claim process using our first iteration of the external applicants guide. Feedback to date has been positive many thanks to all those involved.
Our Growth Delivery Teams are in the process of finalising plans for bringing on the remainder of our applicants and will be in touch with individual applicant organisations in due course.
ESF MI Audit
The ESF are pleased to share that the MI cleansing work in January required in response to the Commission audit at the end of 2017 was completed on time after a fantastic effort by the whole team. This was a highly significant and challenging project that meant other work had to be reprioritised during this period. The ESF were able to go back to the Commission within the required timescales, avoiding possible sanction and allowing a follow on audit to take place.
ERDF and ESF Communications Survey – Thanks
A big thank you to the 190 partners and stakeholders who completed the ERDF and ESF Communications Survey in late January/early February. A full review of all responses is underway – these will be used to help shape communications activities and tools over the coming months.
ESF making a difference
New ESF projects continue to be launched across the country. This month we are pleased to provide details of a project in the South West that is designed to meet local labour market needs.
University leads £5.8million project to drive up employee skills in Devon and Somerset
A consortium of 10 education providers led by the University of Plymouth is launching a multi-million pound ESF funded initiative to drive up employee skill levels across the South West of England. Its aim is to improve participation for people of all ages who are currently the least likely to engage in higher level skills, boosting employee qualifications and addressing skill shortages among individuals and small/medium sized businesses across the region.
Together, the consortium has been awarded more than £3.2 million of ESF funds (towards a total project fund of £5.8 million) to support a number of programmes designed to increase collaboration between further and higher education and business.
For more information please see the media release at https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/university-leads-_58million-project-to-d...
European Social Fund Project Bulletin
Have you signed up to the ESF Project Bulletin? The latest monthly communication was circulated to subscribers at the end of January and the next issue will be issued in March.
To sign up to the bulletin and to request previous issues (featuring articles on publicity and project evaluations) please send an email to: mailto:ESF.2014-2020@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK
ERDF Practitioner Network Bulletin
The latest ERDF Practitioner Network Bulletin was circulated to subscribers on 29 January and included a feature on state aid law. 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 just over 700 subscribers. The next issue is set to be published in the coming days.
A survey relating specifically to the practitioner bulletin was conducted in February – responses are under review and will be used to inform the ongoing development of the document.
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
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