Welcome to the August issue of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds Programme Bulletin.
ESF Case Study: Motiv8 - Ledora's Story
The Motiv8 project in Greater Manchester is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the Building Better Opportunities programme and has helped Ledora overcome some of the barriers that were holding her back.
When Ledora came to the Motiv8 programme she had lots of complex challenges and issues in her life. She had been out of work for a long time, had mounting debts and there was a very real threat of eviction. She also has severe dyslexia. Ledora was signposted to Motiv8 by her local Jobcentre coach who thought that she could benefit from Motiv8’s personalised approach and that they would be able to help her with some of the barriers that were holding her back.
Since then, Motiv8 has been able to support Ledora with her housing situation with advice from their specialist partners at Shelter. They also helped her with debt advice, put payment plans into place, and helped her reduce her bills. She has also been supported to apply for a personal independence payment and has been helped with the transition over to Universal Credit.
Ledora is particularly grateful for the support because she has severe dyslexia and sometimes feels she is overlooked.
She said; “What I appreciated most was that the Motiv8 team listened to me and realised that I needed extra support. They referred me to a ‘Healthy Minds’ course to help with my self-esteem and self- confidence too. They have always been at the end of phone for me and they understand me!”
Beckie, Debt Advisor for Motiv8, said: “Ledora is a completely different person to the one I met back in June 2017. She has turned significant corners and has become much more positive. She felt the world was against her, but she has accepted all the support we have been able to offer and is now in a much better place to move forward."
See Ledora’s full story on the Motiv8 website at: https://motiv8mcr.org/success-stories/ledoras-story
For more information on the project, is available on the Motiv8 website at www.motiv8mcr.org
Latest Programme News
ERDF calls/programme update
The ERDF Programme in England has a total value of £3.296 billion. We have legally committed £1.953 billion of ERDF across 746 projects. A further 372 applications worth a combined £789 million are currently under consideration (figures correct as of end of July 2019).
More than 130 new ERDF calls for projects, worth a combined total of over £600 million, were published at the end of June on GOV.UK - most have a closing date of 30 September. In addition a Sustainable Transport call for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was published in July.
For more detail on the ERDF programme can be found on this month’s Practitioner Bulletin.
Further details of ERDF and ESF Programme activity can be found on our @esif1420england twitter account
ESF calls/programme update
This article provides a snapshot of the ESF commitment picture as of 31 July 2019, with the position at the last article (ESF data to 30 June 2019) shown in brackets, for comparison purposes. The level of ESF commitment at 31 July was £2.018 billion (£2.007 billion), 66.5% (66.2%) of the total ESF allocation.
- In Priority Axis 1 and 2 there are 213 (210) Direct Bid projects with commitments totalling £469.9 million (£459.1 million) and 153 MOUs for the National Co-Financing Organisations (CFOs) valued at £1.5 billion.
- There are 41 ESF Funding Agreements for Technical Assistance with a value of £28.3 million.
- There are 53 Full Applications in appraisal, which total £106.6 million (PA1 £61.2 million, PA2 £45.3 million and PA3 £75,000).
Again, as of 31 July 2019, there were 33 ESF live calls on Funding Finder on GOV.UK to the value of £190.8 million.
The forward timetable contains 54 calls, to the value of £135.3 million. This comprises 22 PA1 calls (£39 million; 29%) and 32 PA2 calls (£96.3 million; 71%). Additionally, there are some calls in the timetable whose value is yet to be finally confirmed, so the total value of this pipeline of waiting calls will in reality be slightly higher than this.
EAFRD calls/programme update - RDPE Growth Programme
The 2017 RDPE Growth Programme calls for tourism infrastructure, food processing and business development projects in 36 LEP areas closed to new Expressions of Interest on 31 May 2018.
Following assessment by the RPA and local ESIF subcommittees, invitations to submit a full application were issued to 979 applicants for funding totalling £190 million.
So far, the RPA has received 722 Full Applications requesting £135 million. To date, 509 projects have secured grant funding worth £94 million.
Overall, under the RDPE Growth Programme £41 million has so far been paid to projects and 718 FTE jobs have been created. The forecast for jobs created under the Growth Programme is 3,734.
In addition, 18 contracts for funding totalling just over £71.2 million have been awarded under the £79.5 million Rural Broadband Infrastructure offer.
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 here https://www.gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds
Changes to procurement penalty guidelines
New EU guidelines have been issued for determining financial corrections for non-compliance with procurement rules C(2019) 3452 refers. The new guidelines apply to breaches found after 14 May 2019, regardless of when the procurement was let. It does not, however apply to procurement penalties previously actioned/concluded.
The new guidance applies to both contracting and non-contracting authorities.
The revised guidelines place greater emphasis on:
- Timescale for receipt of tenders or EOIs - if restricted to 5 days or less, 100% penalty applies.
- If the audit trail is insufficiently robust to demonstrate the fair award of the contract, 25% penalty applies.
- If a body letting a contract refuses to provide the relevant documentation to demonstrate a compliant audit trail, 100% penalty applies.
- Any increase in price exceeding 50% of the value of the original contract will attract a penalty 25% of the original contract plus 100% of the increase
The revised guidelines also reduce the level of penalty for some infringements including; not subdividing a contract into lots (5%); minor reductions in the regulatory timescales to receive tender documents (10%); lack of publication on OJEU of extended timescales for tenders as long as notice has been posted elsewhere (5%); use of criteria which limits competition i.e. trademarks, standards (10%).
Non-contracting authorities i.e. (SMEs, other private sector organisations, third sector organisations, research organisations, and universities whose income is more than 50% private) should note that the revised guidance will apply. Particular attention is drawn to:
- Advertising. If a Non contracting authority does not advertise a contract opportunity with a value over £25,000 in an openly accessible manner (such as website advertisement) 100% correction applies
- Direct awards to linked organisations, i.e. conflict of interest with related parties, whether organisations, or individuals involved in the process (Guidance on Identifying, Managing and Monitoring Conflicts of Interest within ERDF and ESF ESIF-GN-1-027 refers). 100% penalty applies
- Discriminatory tender conditions which prevent competition.100% penalty.
- Artificial splitting of contracts to avoid advertising thresholds. 100% penalty.
- Modification of contracts i.e. if originally below an advertising threshold and extended to a value which would have required advertising penalty 25% of the original contract plus 100% of the increase
- Any increase in price exceeding 50% of the value of the original contract. 25% of the original contract + 100% of the increase applies
- Non advertising extension of tender submission deadlines 10% penalty applies
The full guidance can be found here on GOV.UK
News of new ERDF guidance can be found in the latest ERDF Practitioner Network Bulletin – email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to this bulletin.
ESF Guidance -
ESF Financial Annex Simplified – Published 21 August.
ESF Granular Budget Sample Template – Published 21 August.
ESF Underperformance Policy – Published 21 August.
ESF Funding Agreement Sample – Published 21 August.
Anti-Fraud Policy – Published 21 August
Action Note 039/19 Revised EU Procurement Requirements – Published 15 August 2019.
Guidance on EAFRD can be found here
Branding and Publicity Requirements for new ERDF projects
On 1 August a new Branding and Publicity Requirement was introduced that sees new ERDF supported projects (and existing projects that are extended for a year or more) being required to display and use an additional logo alongside the ERDF logo. This introduction aims to help promote the linkages of our European work with other local growth initiatives being delivered across the country such as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
This new requirement does not apply to ESF projects and only applies to new or extended ERDF projects that receive Grant Funding Agreements or project variation letters from now. If this requirement does apply to your project, you will be informed of this by your MHCLG Appraiser and Contract Manager during the set up and early stages of the project.
The ERDF Branding and Publicity Requirements have been updated to reflect this change and also details who needs to comply with this requirement. The requirements also provide details on what logos should be used and where they guidance logos can be obtained. See the requirements here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/european-structural-and-inves...
ERDF and ESF Reserve Funds
The ERDF Reserve Fund will be established in Autumn 2019 to provide a mechanism to ensure we commit all remaining ERDF funding. The details of the Reserve Fund are being finalised following discussion at the June meeting of the Growth Programme Board.
MHCLG is now developing how the Reserve Fund will work in discussion with partners, including its potential priorities. It will be delivered largely through existing arrangements which MHCLG will explain as details are finalised.
The value of the Fund will be determined by the outcome of the June calls which are due to close at the end of September. Currency fluctuations that inform the available size of the Fund will also be factored in. Reserve Fund calls are anticipated to be published early 2020.
MHCLG will be writing to ESIF sub committee chairs in Autumn to confirm the arrangements and details will then be shared with partners. We’ll update you on progress in future bulletins.
The ESF Reserve Fund will launch in September following approval given by the Growth Programme Board at the June meeting. The Managing Authority has worked closely with local areas to ensure any remaining calls drawing from notional allocations have been notified which has enabled us to be in the best place possible to complete the final stages of work to implement the Reserve Fund. The Managing Authority has carried out detailed work to ensure we are clear on the total amount of funds remaining and for which there are no current plans. The Managing Authority expects to be writing to ESIF Sub-Committee Chairs during the first half of September setting out arrangements for the Reserve Fund going forward.
European Commission lifts payment interruption for the England ESF programme
We had previously reported that in January 2019 the Commission notified the ESF Managing Authority (MA) that, following a systems audit visit in 2017, it had interrupted the payment deadline for interim payment claims for the England ESF Programme.
The ESF MA further built on its responses to the European Commission and the Audit Authority undertook further testing of the MA’s systems. In late July Commission auditors visited the English Audit Authority and reviewed a sample of their audits of operations. The results of the AA’s audits and the result of their review of these led the European Commission to write to confirm that the interruption to the payment deadlines has been lifted, meaning the claims submitted by DWP ESF MA have now been paid.
The payment interruption had not impacted on claims and payments made by the MA to ESF grant recipients.