NCVO: European funds guidance is good news for charity sector

NCVO has welcomed today’s release of the Government’s supplementary guidance for Local Enterprise Partnerships, the 39 local bodies which will determine how key European funds are spent in England in the next European funding round, which runs from 2014-2020 (1).

The guidance sets out how LEPs should set priorities for their allocation of the EU Structural and Investment Funds, and reflects a number of calls from NCVO and its European Funding Network.

Key wins for the sector include:

- Confirmation that at least 20% of the European Social Fund (ESF) must be directed to ‘social inclusion’ work, much of which could be delivered by the voluntary sector. This is a significant increase from the level of ESF funding which has reached such projects under the current funding round (2). This means around £1bn will become available for social inclusion work from 2014-2020 - £500m from the fund, matched by an additional £500m of other funding. Investments in social inclusion work are likely to be in areas such as education, training and employability.

- The news that Big Lottery Fund has proposed to offer the necessary match funding for local social inclusion projects (3).

- News that volunteers’ time can now be considered as an investment for the purposes of matching European funds.

- The opportunity for social investment to be considered for matching European funds.

- A requirement that LEPs involve the local voluntary sector in setting their priorities for how European funds are spent in their areas

- Aside from the ESF, the other major fund, the European Regional Development Fund, may also provide opportunities for the sector.

This money is intended for investment in sustainable capital development, and could be used, for example to develop low-carbon
retro-fitting of community buildings and social innovation start-ups.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said:

'These are major and meaningful wins for the voluntary sector, which holds much of the expertise in promoting social inclusion. The result of today's announcements will be more European money reaching charities and the people we work with.

‘I am pleased to see that both the government and the Big Lottery Fund have responded to our calls to explore how to make match funding easier for charities and social enterprises. I hope this will be a significant step forward in helping these funds reach the voluntary sector.

‘Charities make an important contribution to the economy and economic recovery, for example in supporting people to develop their skills. LEPs now have a significant opportunity to unleash this power of the voluntary sector in promoting economic recovery and I look forward to working with them and our local partners to help them make the most of this.’

Notes

ESF logo1) European Structural and Investment Funds Strategies: supplementary guidance to local enterprise partnerships:

2) Based on research by TSEN, now part of NCVO, into the use of ESF in the current round of funds (2007-2013)

3) European Structural and Investment Fund money must be matched by a domestic funder – this can be local or national government; private sector or voluntary sector – in order to become available. 

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