Black Country ESF Community Grants Fund 2016-2019

UPDATE: Our Black Country ESF Community Grants 2016-2019 programme is currently closed to new applicants. Please contact the team if you have any queries regarding a current or future community grants application on 01922654351 or email  


What are Community Grants? ESF Community Grants are part of the European Social Fund (ESF) Programme which is distributing £500,000 in small grants in the Black Country region between 2016 and 2019. The aim of the fund is to engage with local communities to deliver a range of skills and employment support activities to enable people from the hardest to reach communities, experiencing multiple disadvantages, to make progress towards the labour market. The community grant programme is jointly funded by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (E&SFA) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The grant programme is administered by Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council (WMBC) who has been selected by the SFA to act as a Grant Co-ordinating Body.

How much can I apply for? Group can apply for grants between £5,000 and £15,000. Grant funding of £500,000 will be available over the lifetime of the programme.

What is the funding for? Any activity that will help an individual’s progress towards employment and improve employability skills will be considered: examples include:
• Taster sessions
• Informal or non-accredited learning
• Volunteering and work experience placements
• Job search assistance
• Softer skills, confidence building and personal development.

Projects can range in length from a few weeks to a maximum of six months. Your project can not go ahead until your grant agreement is signed off.

Which organisations can apply for funding? The programme is designed to assist small charities, a community group or not-for-profit organisation based in and providing services in the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership area (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton). Eligible applicants must –
• Have an annual turnover of less than £300,000.
• Employ no more than 9 full-time equivalent (FTE) paid members of staff.
• Not be in receipt of direct funding from the SFA or the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
• Be established and based locally and provide services in the Black Country.
• Have a written constitution, or set of rules, which has been formally adopted and confirm your eligibility to apply.
• Have a bank account in the organisation name with a minimum of two signatories.
• Have a Health and Safety Policy in place.
• Have an Equality and Diversity Policy in place.

General eligibility requirements are set out in the European Social Fund Programme for England 2014-2020 National Eligibility Rules which can be accessed by this web link

Who should the funding support? The target group of the programme is unemployed and economically inactive people aged 18 years and over, who are from the hardest to reach communities and who have difficulty accessing mainstream provision. The identified priority groups for our region are as follows:
• People aged 50 and over (but still seeking to enter the labour market)
• People from ethnic minorities
• People with disability and/or health conditions (where progression to employment is a potential outcome)
• Females
• Offenders / ex offenders

Applications will also be considered from any community that can evidence disadvantaged people, for example lone parents and homeless people.

The aim of the programme is to move people closer to the labour market, therefore all participants should be either registered unemployed or economically inactive, projects cannot support people already in employment.

What can the grant be spent on?
Grants can only fund a discrete piece of activity. The grant should meet all of the costs of delivering that project, staff costs, resources, small items of equipment required for the delivery, premises costs associated with delivery and costs incurred to support participants e.g. travel costs or childcare costs.

How do I apply?
This will be a rolling programme with no deadlines. We will post assessment meeting dates here soon.For an application pack send an email to

What is needed to apply?
You will need to submit your completed application with supporting documentation. All applications must be submitted the Community Grants Programme Team, Walsall MBC, 2nd Floor Civic Centre, Darwall Street, Walsall WS1 1TP and an electronic copy sent to

Contact information – Organisations requiring further support or guidance should contact the appropriate officer below in the first instance:

Inderjit Nijjer

External Funding and Community Grants Manager

Walsall Council

Tel: 01922 654351


Funded by: