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European Social Fund

The SFA have now started the procurement process for the NEET (young people up to the age of 25 not in employment, education or training) service across the West of England.

Over the programme period of 2014 – 2020, ESF is worth approximately £27m in the West of England. This value fluctuates depending on the £ to € exchange rate.

ESF provides half of the funding for any project; the other half needs to come from eligible match funding. Combined together ESF and match will deliver a programme of interventions in the West of England will be worth around £54m.

Our strategy for implementing these funds shows that we will focus it on five broad activities:

ESF table

In the West of England, we have chosen to ‘opt-in’ all of our ESF with two other organisations – the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the Big Lottery Fund (BLF). The opt-in arrangements have three very positive outcomes:

  1. They secure full match funding for ESF. Applicants do not need to find their own match funding.
  2. They allow the LEP area to use the existing robust mechanisms and processes of the two organisations.
  3. They enable the LEP area to draw on the skills, knowledge and expertise of the two organisations.

We have opted-in £24m of our available ESF with the SFA and £3m with the BLF.

For SFA activities, interventions will come into the Programme following a formal procurement process. We expect procurement for NEET (young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training) focused activity (our activity 8 above) to begin first, to be followed by:

  • Information, Advice and Guidance (our activity number 12 above)
  • Skills support for the unemployed (activity 9)
  • Skills support for employees (activity 9)
  • Skills support for employers (activity 11)
  • Removing barriers to employment (activity 10)

The SFA hope to complete the first round of procurements by the end of this calendar year.

For Big Lottery Fund activities under our Removing Barriers to Employment theme, the process is already underway through the national Building Better Opportunities programme. Applications from five partnerships were received covering our area and the BLF continue to appraise these. Our local EU SIF Committee has provided comments on the initial applications and will provide further comments again when full applications are made.

Important information about ESF can be found on GOV.UK.

Who can apply?

  • You must be registered with The Register of Training Organisations (ROTO). More information about the register can be found on GOV.UK

  • In order to respond to SFA procurements, organisations will need to be registered on the SFA’s Register of Training Organisations (ROTO).

  • Each specification will set out the desired delivery model, in most cases for the West of England this is likely to be through a single contract. This enables partnerships and collaborations to form and apply through a single lead contracting party. The SFAs normal rules around sub-contracting would then apply.

For more information please email Antony Corfield

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