You can find a list of guidance notes and frequently asked questions here.
Overview of ERDF & ESF Programmes
40% of the programme (an allocation of €1.464 billion) will go towards supporting SMEs. The overarching suite of ESIF programmes is worth €6.5 billion to the UK. The latest version of the ERDF Operational Programme can be found here.
The European Commission adopted the European Social Fund (ESF) Operational Programme for England 2014-2020 in September 2015. ESF focuses on improving employment opportunities, promoting social inclusion and investing in skills by providing help people need to fulfil their potential.
ESF Funding in England is €3.5 billion – approximately £2.53 billion based on December 2015 exchange rate calculations. You can view the Operational Programme here.
The State Aid rules are important to growth as they help ensure UK firms compete on a level playing field, whilst enabling government to step in and support companies where needed to deliver infrastructure, research, development and innovation and other important projects and policies.
The rules can be tricky to navigate and getting things wrong can have serious impacts, resulting in delays, changes to policy measures or the need to recover money paid out, with interest.
The definition of state aid is broad: it isn’t necessarily obvious which forms of support are caught (for example, aid could also be involved where national lottery and EU funds, tax benefits, loans and guarantees are used) and charities and public bodies can also be affected if they are involved in commercial activities. This means it’s important that state aid is factored into thinking at the earliest stage as possible.
Recent changes to the rules and the new Commissioner’s approach to state aid means there is increased flexibility to give more aid and more types of aid more quickly, but also increased responsibility to get compliance right.
The BIS state aid team have the lead on advising on state aid issues across all public authorities in the UK. To help colleagues to think about state aid issues, the team has produced a streamlined state aid website with comprehensive and updated guidance materials, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/state-aid.
There is also a basics guide that provides an overview of the rules and a guide to assessing whether a measure is affected by the rules and how you can handle this: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-aid-the-basics.
The manual provides more in-depth guidance on individual types of aid and processes: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/state-aid-manual.
Priority Axes Allocations
Revised allocations to ERDF Priority Axes
|Fund||Priority Axis (PA)||% of ERDF||€||£*|
|ERDF||PA 1 – Innovation||37.21||14,373,046||10,204,863|
|PA 2 – ICT||12.55||4,850,393||3,443,779|
|PA 3 – SME Competitiveness||22.80||8,850,568||6,251,953|
|PA 4 – Low Carbon||27.43||10,593,244||7,521,203|
*Exchange rate €1 = 0.71 applied
Revised allocations to ESF Priority Axes and Investment Priorities
|Fund||Priority Axis (PA)||% of ESF||€||£*|
|ESF||PA 1 – Inclusive Labour Markets||57.5||21,027,338||14,929,410|
|PA 2 – Skills for Growth||42.5||15,542,177||11,034,945|
*Exchange rate €1 = 0.71 applied
|Fund||Investment Priority (IP)||% of PA||€||£*|
|ESF||PA 1 – Inclusive Labour Markets||21,027,338||14,929,410|
|1.1 Access to Employment||56.30||10,268,995||7,290,986|
|1.2 Sustainable Integration of Young People||14.32||3,011,441||2,138,123|
|1.4 Active Inclusion||10.38||3,521,550||2,500,300|
|1.5 Community Led Local Development||19.00||4,225,352||3,000,000|
|PA 2 – Skills for Growth||15,542,177||11,034,945|
|2.1 Access to Lifelong Learning||82.67||12,849,307||9,123,008|
|2.2 Improving Labour Market Relevance ofEducation and Training Systems||17.33||2,692,870||1,911,938|
*Exchange rate €1 = £0.71 applied
Confirmed allocations to EAFRD measures
|Fund||Measure||% of EAFRD||€||£*|
|EAFRD||1.1 Skills and vocational training||26||2,401,535||1,921,228|
|6.2 Start-up aid for non-agricultural activities||20||1,847,335||1,477,868|
|6.4 Support for non-agricultural activities||20||1,847,335||1,477,868|
|7.3 support for rural broadband infrastructure||14||1,293,134||1,034,507|
|16.4 Support for supply chain co-operation||20||1,847,335||1,477,868|
*Exchange rate €1 = £0.80 applied. Defra have advised local areas not to alter the exchange rate for EAFRD and to continue with the same rates used for developing the original ESIF Strategy.[/accordion]
[accordion title="Outputs and Results"]Outputs and Results Indicators for ERDF and ESF have been prescribed by The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) respectively on a pro-rata basis according to the national Operational Programmes. This information has been incorporated into Section 9 of the updated Strategy.
Applicants will need to specify the levels of outputs and results they expect to achieve through their projects, in order for their effectiveness and efficiency can be assessed. e.g. Number of SMEs that will be supported.[/accordion]
[accordion title="Other EU programmes"]Section 3 of the updated Strategy also includes details of the various Transnational Cooperation and Cross Border Programmes that include the GCGP area. It also includes details of other EU instruments, such as Horizon 2020 that could benefit SMEs, research institutions and other local partners in the GCGP area.