You can find a list of guidance notes and frequently asked questions here.

Overview of ERDF & ESF Programmes

You can download and view a guide to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) here.

Operational Programmes

The European Commission adopted the ERDF Operational Programme for England 2014-2020 in June 2015. The Operational Programme sets out the national priorities for investing €3.6 billion in projects covering research and innovation, support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), ICT and promoting the low carbon economy, such as through energy efficiency measures.

40% of the programme (an allocation of €1.464 billion) is directed towards supporting SMEs. 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 in England is worth €3.5 billion – approximately £2.53 billion based on December 2015 exchange rate calculations. You can view the ESF Operational Programme here.

State Aid

As the 2014-20 European Structural and Investment Funds are now open for business, potential applicants should be aware of the impact of State Aid rules.

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 BEIS state aid team has 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:

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:

The manual provides more in-depth guidance on individual types of aid and processes:

Application Process

For information about the application process, follow the links below:

You can find a selection of frequently asked questions for ERDF here.

Priority Axes Allocations

You can review all of the allocations made against each ‘Priority Axes’ below:

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
Total ERDF 38,622,251 27,421,798

*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
Total ESF 36,569,515 25,964,355

*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
Total ESF 36,569,515 25,964,355

*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
Total EAFRD 9,236,676 7,395,748

*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.

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.

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.