Huckfield offers this posting as a background briefing on the European Union’s proposed Structural Funds Programmes for the period 2014 to 2020, especially for Scotland. This is written alongside increasing Parliamentary pressure – Conservative and Labour – for a reduced European Budget. What Scotland and the UK might receive in EU Structural Funds depends on the size of the future EU Budget.
Important comments for Social Enterprises, Development Trusts and Local Community Organisations throughout are highlighted in this colour. These may also interest Housing Associations since in appropriate parts of proposed programmes they also may access EU funds.
Meanwhile, as required by the EU Commission, on Friday 02 November 2012 the Scottish Government invited tenders for the “Ex Ante Evaluation” of proposed EU funding and how this fits with Scottish Government objectives.
Between December 2012 and July 2013 this Ex Ante Evaluation process provides an opportunity for Social Enterprises and Third Sector Organisations to become involved and feed in comments on the shape and size of programmes.
Though the EU’s proposed Common Strategic Framework includes a range of funds, this posting focuses on European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) – with which readers are probably most familiar. ERDF may be used as part funding for some capital and revenue spending projects. ESF may be used for revenue projects. A key determinant is whether proposed projects fit within the EU Commission’s proposed Thematic Objectives for EU Funds 2014-2020
Though it is too early to predict how much EU Funding and programme details for Scotland and UK regions, analysis in Allocation of EU Funds 2014-2020 projects categories of regions with an initial broad indication of their possible funding percentages, based on documents currently available.
1) This Note is based entirely on current EU policy documents and Scottish and UK Government sources. For 27 Member States, it is currently proposed that €336bn EU Structural Funds might be available, including €226bn for investment in jobs and growth.
2) Though this Note and its links to documents are accurate at the beginning of November 2012, EU Structural Funds Programmes for 2014 to 2020 will be determined by the size of the EU Budget – which is not yet agreed. There are no current indications of the financial size of various programmes or their allocation to Member States. Allocation of EU Funds 2014-2020 shows the EU’s proposed different regional categories, including those for Scotland and the UK. The EU Commission proposes four basic categories of regions, including new “Transition Regions”.
The size of the future EU Budget is a contentious issue. Britain’s Prime Minister has argued for a freeze. On Wednesday 31 October 2012 the House of Commons voted for a reduction in the EU proposed 2014-2020 Budget.
3) As a background to all this, Timetable for EU Structural Funds 2014-2020 highlights the main documents and possible timescale for Scottish and UK Coalition Governments.
4) The EU Programme for Scotland will be within a UK National Programme. Huckfield has long argued that the Scottish Government should directly handle negotiations for EU Programmes rather than Whitehall Departments of Business, Innovation and Skills, Work and Pensions and Communities and Local Government. Future ESF Community Initiatives which may follow EQUAL and ESF Innovation, Transnational and Mainstreaming Programmes should also be handled by the Scottish Government, rather than the UK Department of Work and Pensions.
DRAFT EU REGULATIONS FOR 2014-2020 PROGRAMME
These links highlight the EU Commission’s draft Regulations for proposed Structural Funds Programmes 2014-2020:
The draft Common Strategic Framework Regulation at Article 9 on page 35 lists 11 Thematic Objectives as the basis for the Commission’s Structural Funds Programmes 2014 to 2020. These are analysed in detail at Thematic Objectives for EU Funds 2014-2020
Although these Thematic Objectives may be supported by ERDF and ESF, the first seven are typically supported by ERDF and the last four are typically supported by ESF.
All of the Commission’s proposed Thematic Objectives, including the first seven, which are typically supported by ERDF, are analysed in detail in Thematic Objectives for EU Funds 2014-2020, including those to which may attract support from ESF.
As shown in detailed analysis in European Social Fund 2014-2020, there are specific references in the draft ESF Regulation for Social Enterprise and Third Sector Organisations. On page 3 THEMATIC FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION is important since a choice must be made of only four ESF Investment Priorities out of 18 for an Operational Programme.
This document offers guidance to EU Commission staff on how future EU Programmes might be implemented. It includes important references to Local Management of EU Funds 2014-2020
4) Notes on these proposed Regulations and Articles highlight why early discussion – especially during the Scottish Government’s Ex Ante Evaluation of proposed EU programmes – is needed to secure the implementation of important provisions for Social Enterprises and Third Sector Organisations, including Housing Associations, for local operation.
PURPOSE OF THIS POSTING
For Social Enterprises, Development Trusts, Housing Associations and Local Community Organisations, these Draft Regulations are significant since in many areas they emphasise local development strategies and include provision for their local management and administration. Previous EU Programmes have not included these specific references.
1) Preparation in England and Scotland. Throughout England, Social Enterprise and Third Sector Organisations are already preparing policy implementation proposals for EU Structural Funds and other Programmes for the period 2014-2020. In Scotland, as shown above, the Ex Ante Evaluation process begins in December 2012 and offers similar opportunities.
2) Social Enterprise and Third Sector Organisations. Social Enterprise and Third Sector Organisations represent represent large numbers of people, organisations and resources in the Third Sector. Many may not currently be aware of these specific references, enabling their significant role in EU funds. Based on these references, it is appropriate that Social Enterprise and other Third Sector Organisations, including Housing Associations with their wider role, should press for local involvement in operation of these Programmes.
3) Local Management and Operation. Proposed 2014-2020 EU Programmes include significant provision for Community Led Local Development, Integrated Territorial Investment and Joint Action Programmes – all of which are explained in a detailed analysis in Local Management of EU Funds 2014-2020
COFINANCING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
Huckfield apologises for introducing too much Euro-Jargon.
1) CoFinancing, as explained in more detail in ESF CoFinancing – EU Funds 2014-2020, means that a Central, Public or Local Government Organisation provides match funding for ESF or ERDF so that applications are made for 100% funding. Applicants do not have to secure their own match funding. There are many current examples of CoFinancing Organisations in England, including the Department of Work and Pensions and Skills Funding Agency. An example in Scotland is the Scottish Funding Council’s CoFinancing of the Priority 5 ESF “Employability Pipeline”. Future ESF and ERDF might be CoFinanced for Social Enterprise and Third Sector Organisations, especially for locally managed programmes described above.
2) Technical Assistance, as shown in more detail at Technical Assistance for EU Funds 2014-2020 may be available to support programme management, operation and administration, including operation of local programmes described above. Many EU Funds Conferences and Seminars about programme operation and management attended by Social Enterprise and Third Sector Organisations are funded through Technical Assistance. Technical Assistance for locally managed infrastructure organisations might fund training in management, record keeping and administrative systems.
Huckfield has tried to simplify a detailed and complex series of available documents, on which EU Funds for 2014-2020 will be based.
There are many organisations and previous applicants which have abandoned EU funding because of its complexities, onerous administration, auditing requirements and difficulties in securing match funding.
However, in proposed EU Programmes for 2014 to 2020 there are many more detailed references to Social Enterprise and local community involvement than in previous programmes. There are also many more proposals for these funds to be managed at a local level which is more appropriate to Third Sector Organisations.
Huckfield hopes that all this is sufficient to encourage these organisations to become involved in the Scottish Government’s Ex Ante Evaluation process of proposed EU programmes which starts in December.