VCSE Technical Assistance Update for the European Programme (#13)

This is the thirteenth in a series to update you on the main European Funds in Greater Manchester, provided by GMCVO with the support of Network for Europe, and is part of Technical Assistance.

Current Calls for project proposals – Context:

  • Deadline approaching- European Regional Development Fund (ERDF): Research and Innovation call for proposals (Priority Axis 1) deadline 31/10/17. The call focuses on strengthening research and innovation in Greater Manchester and improving links between businesses (particularly Small-Medium Enterprises) and research institutions;
  • Deadline approaching - ERDF Sustainable Urban Development (SUD) (opened 30th June 2017) final deadline 31/10/17. The last review point for the call is 30th September 2017. More information about SUD is below;
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) – proposals under the three project headings (Rural Tourism, Business Development and Food Processing) still open for submission. Extra money will be added to these project headings but final amounts need to be allocated across the thirty-eight Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas alongside comments and confirmation from the areas’ respective ESIF Committees. The deadline for submission of proposals under the three project headings is January 2018.

Find live calls for proposals in Greater Manchester here.

European Social Fund (ESF)

ESF Working Well
Work is continuing to identify the applicant that will be the lead provider for the delivery of the £52m contract.
The successful applicant should be announced by mid-November, latest timetable from the commissioner lists 17th November 2017 as the Issue of Contract Award date, with delivery starting in 2018.

Currently, commissioners are finishing their second dialogue stage with applicants with the Call for Final Tenders expected on Monday 11th September 2017.

If you submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) to any of the Lead organisations bidding for Working Well please complete the short table on GMCVO’s website to collect information about what communication you have had from Leads in response to your EOI.

The rest of the ESF programme
As we move to the second half of the Programme, it now seems that only 44% of ESF has been committed across England. Once the Working Well contract (£52m) has been awarded in Greater Manchester we will be ahead of the 44% average ESF committed across England and this puts Greater Manchester ahead of where we were expected to be by this point in the programme.

It is not clear what will happen if some other LEP areas are unable to commit their allocation in full. Plans are developing England-wide for the second half of the Programme, in particular looking at whether the national Co-Financing Organisations (Skills Funding Agency and Big Lottery Fund) will continue to be involved. For example, if Big Lottery Fund decided to be involved again, they would likely bring their own match (which would increase funding available to Greater Manchester). But nothing has been decided yet. Attention will focus on the remaining ESF funds for Greater Manchester, which are expected to be run through Greater Manchester Combined Authority (as Co-Financing Organisation), who will be identifying what further match is available and where funding should be allocated.

Value for Money
The Treasury has guaranteed funding for all projects agreed before we leave the EU (so if we leave in March 2019, this would continuing funding to 2022). As part of the guarantee, projects have to show that they fit with domestic strategies, and are value for money. This will be checked before projects are approved.

At first, there was a concern that this might lead to cheap projects, which didn’t work to dig deep in their delivery and didn’t properly tackle inequalities or the true needs in our communities. However, considerable work has been done on defining Value for Money as a process where applicants are allocated money according to the activity proposed. For example, generic projects would get less money but where an applicant proposes to target particularly excluded groups or project impressive results they would receive more money.

UK Shared Prosperity Fund
Discussions are underway about what would replace ESF funding once the current Programme runs out in 2022. For England, this is around £3bn over seven years, plus match, much of ESF focused on inclusion, and funded activity in more deprived areas and communities. A Parliamentary green paper, an initial report of a government proposal for wider discussion, debate and consultation, is expected shortly, and there should be an opportunity for local input, in particular looking at good practice in current ESF projects.


European Regional Development Fund

ERDF New calls
Future calls across England are expected on 22nd September and 17th November. For Greater Manchester, calls are expected to be announced on 17th November rather than late September (but this could change).
While much of the ERDF programme in Greater Manchester is for Financial Instruments (loan funds for enterprise, and for buildings), there is also revenue funding to support enterprises, including start-ups and social enterprises. Calls for proposals for the second half of the programme could include extensions to existing projects as well as new projects from new applicants.

New Call - SUD (Sustainable Urban Development)
The ERDF SUD call remains open, with a final deadline of 31st October. Proposals need to value at least £1m (50% ERDF + 50% match funding), but it is important to note that the combined authority are looking for proposals that create a linked and integrated programme of delivery. SUD presents good opportunities for sub-contracting to Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations so if you feel your organisation has something to contribute it would be best to read through proposals and get in touch with lead providers as detailed on the GMCVO website.

A number of proposals have been received following the first review point (end of July) but there is no further information available about the detail of proposals submitted. The £21m worth of funding available under SUD has not been allocated as yet so there are still opportunities for proposals to be submitted. Once again the final review point is 30th September 2017 and the deadline for proposals is 31st October 2017.

There were expected to be eight SUD calls, based on the core cities, but so far there have only been three. Manchester and Liverpool were the first, with Leeds a few days later. We have asked for an update on the SUDs for the next PMC-Growth Board. It will be interesting to see how they vary based on the different LEP areas, and on the relative involvement of the VCSE organisations.

Evaluation - Summative Assessments
Each ERDF project is required to produce a summative assessment. Guidance (and appendices) have now been issued.
Find the Summative Assessment guidance here

ESIF sub-committee meeting
The local LEP level committee meeting for EU funds was due on 22nd September, but has now been put back to early October.


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