EU Funding FAQs

In 2013 Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire was invited by UK Government to submit a strategy for using ESF, ERDF and EAFRD (collectively known known as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) strategy), for a period from 2014 to 2020.

From the beginning of writing our strategy up to sending out a call for projects and beyond, the ESIF programme has evolved.

This Q&A is updated on a regular basis to reflect the very latest position on the 2014-20 ESIF programmes.

1) How much ESIF does Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP have?

The Government has notionally allocated £142 million to the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership for the ERDF, ESF and EAFRD programmes (2014-2020). The amount is subject to change as the programme operates in Euros, so the Sterling amount will vary as the exchange rate fluctuates.

Indicative allocations for each fund are:

£83 million for ERDF
£55 million for ESF
£3.2 million for EAFRD

In addition to the £142 million allocated to our LEP, £27.4 million of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) ERDF and ESF allocation must be spent on interventions within the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP transition area.

2) Where can I find the Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP draft European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) strategy?

Our LEP’s strategy can be found here.

This strategy sets out the types of activities that our LEP is seeking to support using the main programmes of European Social Funding (ESF) and European Regional Development Funding (ERDF).

In addition our LEP has an allocation from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The EARDF contributes to improving the competitiveness of agriculture and forestry; the environment and the countryside; and the quality of life and the management of economic activity in rural areas.

Access to ESF funds will be, for the most part, co-financed by national Opt-in organisations including the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and Big Lottery Fund.

Access to ERDF is largely expected to follow an open, competitive bidding process via national bidding calls organised by DCLG.

3) What is an Opt-In?

Opt-in organisations are national public bodies who offer to deliver locally tailored activities that reflect the requirements of our LEP and their own organisation’s main responsibilities.

They will draw down ESIF monies from our LEP’s allocation and provide the match funding needed from their own national funding programmes. The opt in model allows our LEP and its partners to join with national organisations or programmes to implement shared policy priorities.

By opting in to a service offer from a national organisation or programme, Our LEP commits part of its ESIF allocation to the programme. In return our LEP accesses match funding and administrative support.

Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP is currently in negotiations with the following opt-in organisations and will provide more information when these discussions are finalised.

-Big Lottery (ESF)
– Skills Funding Agency (ESF)
– Department for Work and Pensions (ESF)

4) I have an idea for an ESIF project; who can I contact?

Our LEP is very interested in hearing from partners who are developing ideas for future ESIF funded projects and programmes.

Please feel free to send us your initial thoughts for projects by contacting us at

All ideas submitted will be treated in strictest confidence.

We’re not able to advise which projects will or won’t be successful, but we can provide some initial advice and pointers to possible ways forward.

However, please note that until the England-wide programmes have been agreed by the EC, matters are subject to change.

5) When can I submit an application for funding?

Calls for applications for ERDF, ESF and EAFRD are advertised on the website via this link:


Details of call specifications, deadlines and bidding guidance can be found here.

6) What is a call?

A call is an open invitation for applicants to submit proposals against a published specification. The use of calls enables the Government to specify what they wish to fund and how they wish to fund it, but not who will deliver it. Inviting applications via calls can bring forward a range of ideas and innovative solutions, as well as helping to ensure that the process for selecting grants is open, transparent and consistent.

LEPs play an important advisory role to Government in terms of the local strategic fit of each proposal submitted for their area.

7) Will I need to provide match funding and at what rate?

As a rule, for ERDF and ESF the maximum intervention is 60%, with applicants having to identify match funding of at least 40%. For EAFRD the intervention rate is 40% with the level of match funding required being at least 60%.
Application funds for ERDF, ESF and EAFRD can be found as part of the call specifications advertised on via the funding link:

8) Where can I find an application form?

Application funds for ERDF, ESF and EAFRD can be found as part of the call specifications advertised on via the funding link:

9) What outputs and results are projects required to deliver in return for receiving funding?

A key requirement of any organisation receiving ERDF, EAFRD and ESF is the delivery of targets. The Government is working through its proposals for the suite of Outputs and Results, including targets, with the EC as part of its Operational Programme negotiations.

The EC and Government will be paying close attention to the achievement of Outputs. EC Regulations for 2014-20 state that a Member State’s ESIF allocations can be adversely affected by under-performance of Outputs (i.e. funds taken away form a Local Enterprise Partnership allocation).

For ERDF and EAFRD it is expected that the suite of Outputs will be consistent across the 39 LEP areas, although each LEP area will deliver against the most appropriate Outputs.

For ESF there will be a suite of Output and Result indicators. The primary indicators for ESF are not expected to be largely different from the previous programming period. The core results will look at the number of participants into education, employment and/or training.

For guidance on Government Outputs, Results and definitions please follow this link:

10) What is the role of LEPs?

The UK Government has set out that Local Enterprise Partnerships will play a role in the delivery of the next round of ESIF for the period 2014 – 2020. LEPs have received an allocation of ESIF for the full seven year programme period. LEPs and their partners will oversee the on-going strategic development and delivery of the ESI Funds, while Government Managing Authorities will undertake the management and administration of the fund.

Government states that Local Enterprise Partnerships will provide strategic oversight of the ESIF strategy’s implementation and delivery. Government has tasked the ESIF committee to oversee programme delivery and performance.

In Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire we have established an ESIF committee which will play a key role in determining which projects receive funding. The ESIF committee will work alongside the DCLG, DEFRA, DWP and other opt in agencies in this process.

11) Who will decide which projects in our LEP receive funding?

The LEP ESIF committee is expected to play a key role in determining which projects receive funding working with the Managing Authority and opt in partners.For ERDF projects, the DCLG will enter into contract with successful applicants, for EAFRD it will be DEFRA.

For ESF programmes delivered by the Opt-in organisations, the selection process will follow the Opt-in organisations own published selection criteria, which must comply with open and competitive tendering rules. The Opt-in organisation will enter into contract with successful applicants.

12) Which organisations can apply for ERDF?

13) Can ERDF projects support SMEs that are social enterprises?

Yes, as long as the social enterprises conform with the SME eligibility requirements. For ERDF, ESF and EAFRD guidance see: