Firm News and Blog

Welcome to our latest news and blogs page. Click to read the latest articles below or browse by category on the right.

SME SOLICITORS GUEST BLOG POST


European Structural & Investment Fund Sub-Committee

It is quite a mouthful so we call it ESIF for short! But what is it? And why is there one in Worcestershire?

You will, no doubt, be familiar with Local Enterprise Partnerships, or LEPs as they are often referred to. There are 38 LEPs around the country and they act as a strategic partnership between the private and public sectors to create and implement a focused economic strategy for their specific area of responsibility. The Worcestershire LEP is led by Gary Woodman who is supported by a board of local council leaders and business people. This board sets the economic and development strategy for the County.

Part of the funding for the development of Worcestershire comes from Europe. In fact, some £68m has been committed to the County by the UK government through Brussels and the role of the ESIF Sub-Committee is to allocate that funding to projects which support the strategic aims of the LEP. In doing so, we aim to support the development of Worcestershire, attract new businesses to the county and create new jobs. This money is to be committed by March 2019, and spent by March 2020.

While the output of the ESIF Sub-Committee is reviewed by the local LEP, the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) takes a large interest in its workings. The Secretariat is provided by DCLG and it collates and comments on all the project submissions. The aim here is to ensure there is no undue influence from the LEP on the Sub-Committee and that the Sub-Committee reaches an impartial decision. The 25 members of the Sub-Committee are drawn from the private sector, the public sector and the third sector, representing charities and voluntary organisations to ensure a holistic approach to projects is provided at all times. It meets four times a year with the ability to meet more often should a pressing need or project arise. 

The over-riding objective of the Sub-Committee is to ensure European money is deployed effectively in the county, creating jobs and significant economic benefit to the county. 

We receive project proposals from a variety of sources from Worcestershire County Council to private sector businesses seeking European grant funding, and from housing associations seeking to create new job opportunities for their tenants to environmental businesses seeking grant funding to reduce carbon emissions across the county. Given access to European funding comes in many forms; for example, the European Regional Development Fund (“ERDF”), the European Social Fund (“ESF”) and the European Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Fund (“EAFRD”), there are, understandably, a wide variety of applicants and the sub-committee’s role is to assess and comment on the strategic fit of the submitted projects to Worcestershire. 

Some great examples of success to date include IQHQ, a Malvern-based involved in the defence communications, intelligence, surveillance and security markets. IQHQ accessed the ERDF-backed Proof of Concept Fund to investigate, advance, commercialise and, importantly, protect a prototype of the smallest radio ever produced by the company. Similarly, and also through Worcestershire Business Central, Applied Principles accessed the Proof of Concept Fund to develop a Cloud-based paperless Process & Compliance Monitoring System.

It is also very pleasing to note we are one of the top performing ESIF Sub-Committees when it comes to project recommendations and a significant majority of these projects are now up and running and contributing effectively to the Worcestershire economy. Of particular note is the funds we have allocated from the EAFRD fund which have gone towards the provision of bottling plants, mushroom farms and, in the case of Evesham-based Vicarage Nurseries, the demolition of two large greenhouses, the building of a fruit packing facility and investment in associated machinery.

However, I guess the most important thing is what happens post-Brexit? The good news is the UK Government has committed to honour any European financing contracted prior to 29 March 2019. Therefore, so long as a Funding Agreement is in place between a project provider and DCLG prior to that date, the funding will be guaranteed.

Finally, how does someone access this funding? There is still time! Often the best place to start is Worcestershire Business Central which is staffed by people with a complete working knowledge of the most appropriate funding mechanisms. If European money is the most appropriate, the team there will guide you accordingly.

I hope this has helped to clarify access to European funding and the role the ESIF sub-committee plays in ensuring the funds deployed in the county are aimed solely at meeting the strategic aims of Worcestershire.

For further information, contact Worcestershire Business Central on 01905 677888 or via email at info@business-central.co.uk

 

Chris Hallam

Chair

Worcestershire ESIF Sub-Committee                                                                        

Added: 13 Apr 2018 10:54


Back To Blog