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European Social Fund (ESF)

The European Social Fund (ESF) aims to increase labour market participation, promote social inclusion and develop the skills of the potential and existing workforce.

The fund is managed by the Department for Work and Pensions. SEMLEP’s remit is to take a strategic view on how best to prioritise ESF funding to deliver growth and jobs in the South East Midlands area.

The total value of the SEMLEP ESF Programme is around £54m (depending on exchange rate).

ESF is a fund aimed at people, rather than businesses. It focuses particularly on people who are unemployed or economically inactive; young people aged 15-24 who are not in education, employment or training; and people who face multiple and often complex barriers getting into employment.

ESF also funds projects that support people in work by investing in basic, intermediate and higher level and technical skills to help employees progress in work or in business and help drive growth in their organisations by improving productivity.

Projects currently being delivered (up until December 2023) also include:

  • pre-employment training in core work-related skills
  • preparation for apprenticeships or outreach work to engage marginalised young people aged 15-18 in customised training and volunteering activities
  • assisting people in work to develop their basic skills particularly in SMEs
  • enhancing intermediate, technical and higher skills at level 2, 3 and above
  • entrepreneurial/business skills in target groups

ESF-funded projects meet stringent national eligibility requirements and fit with local priorities. These are outlined in the European Structural Investment Fund Implementation Plan and described fully in the SEMLEP ESIF Strategy. More information and resources, including data, can be found in our resource hub. You can read more about national requirements in the European Regional Development Fund Operational Programme 2014-20.

For more information regarding ESF projects, please contact Steve.McAteer@semlep.com.

The European Social Fund (ESF) is currently seeking applications to help vulnerable individuals move closer to the labour market.

Approximately £4,500,000 of funding is available and South East Midlands based organisations have until 30 April 2021 to submit their full applications. Projects that support people to get closer to work, are invited to apply for the funding. Specifically, projects that:

  • Support people with multiple and complex barriers to participation to address these underlying issues and to move into the labour market.
  • Engage marginalised individuals and support them to re-engage with education, training, or in employment.

The Managing Authority is seeking projects that address the impacts of COVID-19 on the groups most adversely affected including women, over 50’s, those with health problems, lone parents, long term unemployed, carers, BAME communities, ex-offenders, homeless individuals, those experiencing domestic violence, members of workless households, and those with Protected Characteristics.

This open call seeks to support individuals, who are facing multiple barriers to employment and economic inclusion, to move them closer to or into the labour market using a blended engagement mix of online, group and 1:1 interventions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact upon the local labour market, with some job losses already realised, and more predicted to follow. In order to help address this issue, and those of additional long-run deterioration of health and wellbeing and the negative financial impact upon the most economically disadvantaged, the ESF Managing Authority is seeking projects to deliver Active Inclusion support in the South East Midlands area.

Full details of the South East Midlands Local Priorities can be found in the Call Specification published on the GOV.UK website.

The ESF application process is a single-stage process – Full Application only. Applications are open until 30 April 2021.

To apply for funding under this call you will need to complete and submit your Full Application via the ECLAIMS IT System. If you do not already have access to the ECLAIMS IT system, please request an ‘ECLAIMS External Access Form’ by emailing E.CLAIMSSUPPORT@dwp.gov.uk.

You are also advised to read the details in the call specification in order to produce an application that complies with the requirements and meets the needs set out in the ESF Operational Programme.

The published ESF Online Full Application Guidance also provides step-by-step advice on how to complete your Full Application using the ECLAIMS IT system. ESF Online Full Application Guidance.

Following the call closing date (30th April 2021), applications will usually first be subject to a Gateway Assessment undertaken by the Managing Authority under the following criteria:

  • Applicant eligibility
  • Activity and expenditure eligibility
  • The fit with the ESF operational programme and the call

Proposals that pass the Gateway Assessment will move into the Core Assessment which apprises the following:

  • Strategic fit
  • Value for money Ma
  • nagement and control • Deliverability
  • Procurement/tendering
  • State Aid compliance

DWP will seek advice from partners when considering applications to ensure its appraisal is informed by local economic growth conditions and opportunities within the context of Operational Programmes and the SEMLEP ESIF Strategy. For further advice regarding applications, please contact steve.mcateer@semlep.com.

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