The European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund are the main European Funds which make up the European Structural and Investment Funds programme.
The programme provides funds to help local areas grow in a smart, sustainable and inclusive way.
European Regional Development Fund
The funds provides 50% (in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland) revenue or capital funding to support investment in innovation, businesses, low carbon and climate change projects and create jobs.
The North East’s indicative allocation of ERDF is £227m, and covers five key areas:
- Research and Innovation ( £45m)
- SME Competitiveness (£107m)
- Supporting a shift towards a Low Carbon economy (£61m)
- Climate Change adaptation, in particular flood risk management (£9m)
- Community led local development (£4.5m)
You can find out a bit more through this short video
The local context on about why these areas are important, how much money is available for each area, and the kinds of activity that can be funded are outlined in the North East LEP ESIF strategy. There is also information in the Operational Programme for England.
Within the main fund, a separate fund has been created for Sustainable Urban Development to support the following key challenges for the region:
- Sustainable energy and sustainable transport (£16m)
- Sustainable infrastructure investments (£2.6m)
How do I apply?
To be eligible to apply, applicants must be a legally constituted body, and not an individual or sole trader. You can find more information about eligibility here.
The Government issues calls for the fund on a regular basis – around three times a year. You can check them here.
Applications are a two-stage process, with an initial outline application which assesses value for money, followed by a more detailed application. The whole process from applying to receiving the agreement takes roughly 9-12 months.
You don’t have to wait for a call to prepare your application – there’s a lot you can do in advance, including reading the Operational Programme and Guidance, and the NELEP area ESIF strategy 20140-2020.
What support is available?
All of the information is publicly available which will help you apply. However, it is a complex programme. To help. Newcastle City Council, as part of the North East Technical Assistance team (part funded by ERDF), can support applicants to develop their proposals in Newcastle. Please contact:
Telephone: 0191 211 5693
European Social Fund
The European Social Fund is one of the main European Funds which make up the European Structural and Investment Funds programme. ESF provides financial support for revenue projects which offer training to the unemployed and those employed in small and medium-sized enterprises.
Within Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, there are two priority axes, each of which is divided up into two Investment Priorities:
Priority Axis 1: Inclusive Labour Markets
- 1.1: Access to Employment
- 1.2 Sustainable Integration of Young People
- 1.3 Youth Employment Initiative (County Durham)
- 1.4 Active Inclusion
- 1.5 Community led local development
Priority Axis 2: Skills for Growth
- 2.1 Access to Lifelong Learning
- 2.2 Improving the labour market relevance of education and training systems
How do I apply?
To be eligible to apply, applicants must be a legally constituted body, and not an individual or sole trader. You can find more information about eligibility here: ESIF guidance
There are two main ways of applying – one via open calls, and one via opt-in organisations:
1, Via open calls
For open calls in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, ESF pays 50% of the total costs. Applicants need to source the matched funding, which can be public and/or private.
The Government publishes ESF calls, which are open to all eligible organisations, here.
Applying is a two-stage process, with an initial outline application which assesses value for money, followed by a more detailed application.
2, Via opt-in organisations
The following organisations will be acting as opt-in organisations for the ESF 2014-2020 programme in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland: the Big Lottery, the Skills Funding Agency, and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Co-financing organisations provide the matched funding. However, in many cases, only one large project will be funded per call, for the whole of Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.
2.1, Big Lottery Fund Building Better Opportunities Programme
The Big Lottery Building Better Opportunities programme in the North East LEP area will fund applications under the four themes of:
- Multiple barriers to employment
- Health and mental health inequality
- Financial inclusion
- Digital inclusion
Further details can be found on the Big Lottery website including details on the funding opportunity and how to apply.
2.2, Skills Funding Agency
The SFA is procuring the following ESF 2014 to 2020 programme-funded education and training services on behalf of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership under the following Investment Priorities:
- support programmes for young people (IP1.2)
- programmes for the unemployed (IP1.1)
- skills support for the workforce (IP2.1)
- skills support for employers (IP2.2)
To bid for these ESF SFA opportunities, your organisation must submit a successful application to be on the SFA’s Register of Training Organisations.
2.3, Department for Work and Pensions
The DWP’s role as a co-financing organisation for ESF is to procure and contract manage provision aimed at:
- improving employment opportunities
- promoting social inclusion
- helping people to fulfill their potential
All of the information to help you apply is available publicly. There is a lot of preparation you can do in advance of a call for applications, including reading the ESF guidance, as well as completing drafts of the application forms, and accessing technical assistance support to develop your application.
What support is available?
ESF is a complex programme. However, Newcastle City Council has received ESF technical assistance funding to help potential applicants in Newcastle develop their ESF proposals.
Telephone: 0191 277 7805