The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) are the European Union’s main funding programmes for supporting growth and jobs across EU member states.
In England, for 2014 to 2020 the programmes comprise the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF) and part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). These have been brought together into a single Growth programme with individual operational programmes aligned to maximise support for jobs and growth.
The Growth Programme is delivered across England’s 39 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas, each of which has an ESIF Strategy to support local delivery. The £6 billion funds within the Growth Programme have been notionally allocated to LEP areas. ERDF can fund activity such as support to SMEs, ICT, Low Carbon and research and innovation. ESF supports employment, skills and social inclusion.
The Black Country’s provisional allocation is £151m (177m euro), consisting of both ESF and ERDF.
The funding allocation is to be spent against key delivery themes:
• Innovation, Research and Technology
• SME Competitiveness
• Low Carbon Economy
• Skills, Employment and Social Inclusion
• Sustainable Transport
To be able to access funding, the LEP had to submit a Strategic Investment Strategy for the sub-region, setting out the priorities for spend, proposed initiatives, and expenditure profiles to include sources of match funding (at a rate of 50%). Positive feedback was received from Government and the Black Country was congratulated on its submission.
The strategy can be downloaded here.
The Managing Authority for the ERDF Programme is the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the ESF Programme which in the Black Country, is co-financed by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) through the Building Better Opportunities Programme.
Recipients of ERDF and ESF funding must adhere to strict European funding regulations. Programme guidance can be found via the Gov.UK ESIF Page or click here.
Growth Programme Board
The Growth Programme Board (GPB) in England serves as the Programme Monitoring Committee (required by EC regulation) for both the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund.
The Growth Programme Board is supported by:
- a number of national level thematic and operational sub-committees which advise the Board on technical and policy areas
- 39 Local Enterprise Partnership area sub-committees which help Government Department Managing Authorities better understand local needs and capacity in their particular area.