Welcome to the October 2018 issue of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds Programme Bulletin. This month, alongside the usual Programme updates, we include word on some new calls published on GOV.UK and news of the Technical Notices on ESI Funds.
New calls published
111 new ERDF calls worth a total of just over £515 million were published in early October, most with a 23 November closing date. A new batch of ESF calls have also recently gone live. All ERDF, ESF and EAFRD project calls can be viewed on the funding finder page at https://www.gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds
Understanding Technical Notices
As featured in the September issue of this bulletin, the Government has published a series of technical notices that outline the preparations in place to minimise disruption in the unlikely event of not agreeing a deal with the EU and ensure a smooth and orderly exit from the European Union (EU).
We are confident of securing a good deal with the EU, but as a responsible government we are preparing for all scenarios. The publication of technical notices is part of this planned approach.
The technical notices for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the EU Rural Development Programmes and the European Territorial Cooperation Programmes (ETC) are UK-wide and provide an overview of the Government’s plans for guaranteeing funding to projects in a no-deal scenario.
A negotiated exit from the EU - the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU published in March 2018 would mean the UK would continue to participate in EU funding programmes until they end in 2023, subject to a final negotiated agreement.
Organisations should continue delivering projects that have been agreed and apply for funding under current arrangements with confidence that the funding guarantee applies even if there is no negotiated agreement between the UK and the EU.
We continue to make good progress towards this year’s important ESI Fund spend and output targets. Delivering at pace and submitting claims accurately and promptly helps to maximise the funding available to support your growth priorities.
After 29 March 2019 if there is no deal - to provide stability for UK organisations that benefit from EU funding and to provide certainty for organisations who wish to apply for funding, the Government has guaranteed all ERDF, ESF and EU Rural Development projects that would have been funded by the EU for the full 2014-20 programme period.
There may be further updates to the technical notice once more information becomes available. If you have any enquiries about the ERDF or ESF technical notice, please contact email@example.com.
Latest Programme News
European Social Fund programme update
ESF commitment as of 17 September 2018 was £1.5 billion, 48% of the total ESF allocation.
In line with EU regulatory requirements, DWP as the ESF Managing Authority has undertaken a mid-term review of the England ESF 2014-2020 Operational Programme (OP). This has now been approved and adopted by the European Commission and published on GOV.UK.
Headline changes to the OP were also highlighted in ESF Action Note 028/2018 published on GOV.UK.
At present the ESF Managing Authority continues to prioritise the processing of claims to maximise our potential to meet 2018 spend and performance targets.
Dr Catherine Blair, Head of European Social Fund Division, wrote to local LEP area ESI Fund sub-committees on 28 September 2018 informing them that during October and November DWP’s priority will be the checking and authorising of as many claims as possible. This means non-urgent tasks are being deprioritised. The requirement is to have claimed back from the European Commission a specific amount of funding (known as an N+3 target) by 31 December 2018. Any shortfall against the target has the potential to result in a loss of funds (or de-commitment) from the Programme.
The ESF Managing Authority would like to thank ESF grant recipients for their support in submitting claims and responding to queries and requests. The timely submission of complete, accurate claims and supporting evidence continues to be important. Timely responses to requests for procurement evidence and evidence to enable desk based checks to be undertaken, plus responses to queries/adjustments required, are also essential.
We also appreciate the flexibility and support shown by local area partners during this time.
The Managing Authority will continue to undertake appraisals of applications and publish calls as planned. The published calls can be found on the Funding Finder on GOV.UK.
ESF Single-Stage Full Application process
From the start of the ESF 2014-2020 Programme, the standard application process for Direct Bid Projects has involved two separate stages – an Outline Application and Full Application stage.
Whilst this approach has supported complementarity with the same two-stage process operated by other European Structural and Investment Funds in England, the ESF Managing Authority has been constantly seeking ways of increasing speed and efficiency across the application and appraisal processes.
Following recent use of Single-Stage Full Application processes for isolated, specific elements of the ESF Programme – e.g. Youth Employment Initiative calls, the ESF Managing Authority has agreed to adopt this approach across the whole of the Programme for all new open calls published on or after Monday 29 October.
The use of a Single-Stage Full Application process aims to simplify access to ESF funding for applicants. It will also reduce the overall timescales from call publication to Funding Agreement, whilst continuing to ensure the quality and compliance of project proposals against the ESIF Core Selection Criteria.
Action note 029/18 published on GOV.UK on Thursday 25 October sets out more detail.
ERDF calls/programme update
We have legally committed £1,509 million of ERDF across 572 projects, with a further £786 million of applications currently under consideration (figures correct as of end of September 2018).
As mentioned earlier in this bulletin, 111 new project calls, worth in excess of £515 million have recently been published on GOV.UK.
Further details of ERDF and ESF Programme activity can be found on our @esif1420england twitter account
EAFRD calls/programme update - RDPE Growth Programme
Over 1,860 expressions of interest were received for the Growth Programme offers under tourism infrastructure, food processing and business development which closed on 31 May 2018. Following assessment by the RPA and local ESIF subcommittees invitations to submit a full application were issued to 1,307 applicants for funding totalling £238 million.
Applicants are being encouraged to submit their full application during autumn 2018, and so far the RPA has received 463 full applications requesting £91 million. To date, 255 projects have secured grant funding worth £46 million.
Overall, under the RDPE Growth Programme £14.9 million has been paid to projects, creating 220 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
Finally, 8 projects worth £47.4 million have been contracted under the rural broadband offer to Local Authorities, with a further 14 projects to a value of £36.59 million in appraisal.
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, click here at https://www.gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds
No new ERDF guidance has been issued or published in the past month
Guidance on EAFRD can be found here at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rdpe-growth-programme
EAFRD project case study
Treak Cliff Cavern Ltd: Cavern Interpretation Centre, Castleton, Derbyshire (grant amount: £57,293; total cost: £143,233).
The aim of the project was to create a visitor welcome and interpretation centre. The centre hosts a variety of activities such a working Blue John mine tour and jewellery making workshops.
The project has enhanced the current facilities on site, enabled new visitor based activities and extended the capacity to produce finished product from the mined stone.
- Up to a 30% increase in visitor numbers and more overnight stays.
- 2.5 new FTE jobs have been created.
The local community and economy will benefit from visitors using local pubs, restaurants and shops.
ERDF and ESF Programme 2018 targets: key deadlines
A quick reminder to colleagues regarding the importance of our 2018 ERDF and ESF Programme Targets
We’re continuing to place strong emphasis on achieving our 2018 spend and performance targets. Colleagues will be aware that failure to achieve the annual N+3 spend targets will result in any ERDF/ ESF shortfall being lost. Not meeting Performance Framework spend and output targets will result in 6% of funding in poor performing priority axes being moved to better performing priority axes.
Colleagues are reminded that 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, the majority of project claims must be submitted, checked, authorised and paid by early November 2018.
Managing Authority teams are continuing to work very closely with ERDF/ESF grant recipients to maximise the amount of compliant, eligible spend defrayed and claimed in line with the Commission’s timetable. Achieving this relies 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.
The ESF Managing Authority is prioritising the work needed to maximise the amount of expenditure we claim back from the Commission and asks for Grant Recipients please to ensure where possible that any outstanding claims are submitted and that any requests for additional information are responded to swiftly.
Your contract manager will stay in touch with you to make sure that we maximise all potential spend and claims.
127 ERDF Grant Recipients are using E-CLAIMS which represents a total of 251 Projects; our contract managers continue to work to bring our remaining applicants onto E-CLAIMS to manage the claims process on-line.
In late September a new E-CLAIMS support function was implemented.
For ESF, all E-CLAIMS related queries must be routed via the E-CLAIMS Helpdesk - details of how this can be done have been issued. This support function will replaces the process of contacting the internal ESF IT/MI team for technical support/queries. For ERDF applicants the first point of contact will continue to be your GDT contract manager.
Coming soon – ERDF and ESF England 2018 case study booklets
In November we are set to publish, on our GOV.UK pages, the 2018 ERDF and ESF case study booklets. Some of the projects featured in the ERDF booklet were submitted by partners though our ‘Favourite Project’ initiative – thanks to everyone who put forward suggestions. We’ll alert you via a special bulletin and through our twitter accounts when the booklets are available so watch this space.
ERDF Twitter Ambassadors – follow your local account
Back in July we introduced a new set of ERDF specific regional twitter accounts. Designed to help the promotion of programme activities at a more local level, there are six in total –
@growth_england @GrowthNorthwest @GMidlands
@GrowthSoutheast @growth_swest @growth_neyh
Please keep an eye out for them, follow the ones relevant to you and your location and include them in your tweets. If you’re not the person responsible for social media in your organisation, please make someone who is responsible aware of these accounts. Working together on social media can really make a difference to the profile of our projects and achievements.
Our other bulletins
RDPE Network July Newsletter
The latest RDPE Network Newsletter was recently published – click here to read: https://mailchi.mp/0e2423a10a8d/rdpe-network-newsletter-october-2018?e=6...
To re-subscribe to receive future issues of the RDPE newsletter click here: https://defra.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=9e97eb45b7e61822414056309&...
ESF Project Bulletin
Have you signed up to the ESF Project Bulletin? If not you can sign up here: https://www.us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ba754411e79454f9f24ffb076&i...
The ESF Project Bulletin is aimed at partners delivering ESF projects to keep you up-to-date with the latest news and developments in the programme, and help you deliver your project in line with requirements.
ERDF Practitioner Network Bulletin
The October ERDF Practitioner bulletin, including guidance on document retention, ERDF project case studies and a feature on Growth Hubs, is out on 31 October. Aimed at partners delivering ERDF projects, the bulletin offers more detailed / technical information relating to the programme. Check our twitter account for alerts and links to the bulletin.
If you would like to sign up or to re-subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading ‘Subscribe to ERDF Practitioner Bulletin’.
Contacts and useful resources
Visit the Programme website pages at www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding