European Union Funding 2014-2020
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the European Union’s main funding programmes for supporting growth and jobs.
Despite ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds still plays a key role in supporting the LEP’s priorities to stimulate business growth, contribute to key infrastructure projects and raise skills levels. EU funding remains available over the next two to three years and is on track to be fully committed via scheduled bidding calls. A recent adjustment of the £/Euro exchange rate means that total EU funding available to the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area now stands at £152m.
Allocations from the ERDF (£91m), ESF (£56m) and EAFRD (£5m) are largely committed with over 75% already supporting a range of capital investment, business support, and skills and employment projects and programmes. Government has stated that, provided projects and programmes seeking EU funds are contracted by or shortly after the date that the UK leaves the EU, funding will be guaranteed even if delivery extends beyond Brexit. In addition a proportion of EU funds allocated to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP will be spent in our area, given the current overlapping geography of the two LEPs.
Under ERDF, key business support programmes such as the Growth Hub, Mentoring for Growth and business grant and finance programmes, including a £10m contribution to the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, are well under way providing vital support to new and existing businesses and financial support for their growth plans. ERDF investment is also being secured for infrastructure projects such as the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator and Smart Innovation Hub at Keele University as well as a range of new business grant schemes. Bidding calls in October 2018 and March 2019 will see full commitment of the ERDF allocation.
Under ESF, programmes to develop skill levels, improve access to new jobs and apprenticeships and tackle disadvantage are being developed through the government’s DWP, Education & Skills Funding Agency and Big Lottery national programmes. Committed EU investment here is over £36m and skills and inclusion initiatives are under way which will benefit more than 18,000 people. Separate proposals to provide a Skills Hub and a Higher Skills Programme are due to be agreed soon and participation in a second phase of national Opt In programmes will see the full commitment of the ESF allocation.
Funding under EAFRD is much smaller (£3.2m) but provided support for businesses in rural areas across manufacturing, tourism and food and drink sectors. This fund is committed but is supplemented by the LEADER programme (£1.8m grant) providing direct support to rural businesses across farming, tourism, forestry and food and drink sectors. There will be no more EAFRD bidding calls.
Consultation on the proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), which will replace EU and some UK growth funding programmes, will take place this autumn. The UKSPF is scheduled to be operational from 2021.
For more information and background on EU funding in the Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire area please click on the relevant EU logo below
ESIF Funding Opportunities
What’s on offer from ESIF?
In the UK the current phase ESIF funds are worth approximately £6 billion. Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire’s share of this amounts to just over £130 million. Access to EU funding will no longer be available after BREXIT although some government funded succession economic growth programmes are expected to be introduced to compensate and should be available in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire.
LEPs still have a key part to play in the delivery of the ESIF programmes and the detail of how ESIF will contribute to local priorities for jobs and growth across the Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire LEP area, is contained in the Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire LEP ESIF Strategy . The ESIF strategy and the supporting Skills Investment Plan and ESF Programme Overview are located in the Resources section of the SSLEP website and can also be accessed here.
ESIF now consists of 2 main programmes:
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
European Social Fund (ESF)
Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire is one of 11 areas of the UK to be given EU Transition area status, recognising the specific economic and social challenges facing parts of the LEP area. This means that ERDF and ESF can intervene at a higher level (60%) compared to non Transition areas (50%). EAFRD intervention is set at 40%.
Further detail on the themes and criteria for each ESIF fund can be found via the following link to the government’s ESIF web pages https://www.gov.uk/guidance/england-2014-to-2020-european-structural-and-investment-funds
ESIF progress so far
A significant proportion of the current programme of ESIF funding, available to Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire, is already committed to projects and programmes and are supporting key infrastructure schemes and delivering support initiatives to help businesses start and grow and develop skills levels as well as tackling barriers to employment.
Examples of Stoke and Staffordshire projects supported by the ESIF funds can be found in the case studies section.
To find out more on calls currently open and how to apply, access the government’s ESIF webpages via this link https://www.gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds . Then use the location box to click on Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
The ESIF programme in Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire is directed and managed by the LEP’s ESIF Committee. Terms of Reference, agendas and minutes of the ESIF Committee can be viewed via this link ESIF committee