European Social Fund (ESF): 2007 to 2013

Information about the European Social Fund (ESF) programme for 2007 to 2013 in England and Gibraltar.

For funding from 2014 to 2020, apply for European Structural and Investment Funds.

ESF funding opportunities

ESF Community Grants provide grants of up to £15,000 to small third sector organisations. These grants support a range of activities that help individuals in the hardest to reach communities to make progress towards or enter the labour market.

Community Grants are managed by the Skills Funding Agency (except in London) and administered by a series of grant co-ordinating bodies on a regional basis, which:

  • publicise the availability of grants
  • manage application and selection processes
  • provide support to successful applicants

Read more about the Community Grants.

In London Community Grants are managed by London Councils.

About the European Social Fund

The European Social Fund was set up to:

  • improve employment opportunities in the European Union and help raise standards of living
  • help people to get better skills and better job prospects
  • help equip the workforce with the skills needed by business in a competitive global economy

Read more about ESF at the European level on the European Commission ESF website.

ESF in England

The 2007 to 2013 England ESF programme is investing a total £2.5 billion of European funding in jobs and skills. Priority groups for support include:

  • young people not in education, employment or training
  • families with multiple problems
  • offenders
  • people with low skill levels

By the end of November 2013 there had been over 5.5 million participant starts on the programme and over:

  • 569,000 unemployed or inactive participants have been helped into jobs
  • 150,000 participants have gained basic skills
  • 437,000 participants have gained qualifications at level 2 or above
  • 412,000 disadvantaged young people have been helped to enter employment, education or training

Some projects funded under the 2007 to 2013 England ESF programme will run up to mid 2015.

Read more about the objectives and funding allocations for ESF in England.

ESF in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Read about ESF programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Managing the ESF

ESF Managing Authority

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ESF Division is the ESF Managing Authority for England and Gibraltar. It has overall responsibility for administering and managing ESF and liaising with the European Commission.

The government of Gibraltar EU Programmes Secretariat manages the ESF programme in Gibraltar. It liaises with the DWP ESF Division in England and the European Commission.

Co-financing organisations

ESF funds are distributed to ESF projects through co-financing organisations (CFOs). The 3 national CFOs are:

Co-financing organisations:

  • manage ESF and match funding (domestic public funding)
  • contract other organisations (known as providers) to manage ESF projects
  • ensure that ESF funded projects complement national schemes like the Work Programme

The 2007 to 2013 programme also involved several regional CFOs.

Contact us

European Social Fund Division

Level 2 West
Rockingham House
123 West Street

South Yorkshire
S1 4ER

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Guidance and regulations

  1. ESF 2007 to 2013: guidance manuals

    • 17 June 2014
    • Guidance
  2. ESF action notes: 2007 to 2013 programme

    • 6 February 2015
    • Guidance
  3. European Social Fund publicity toolkit

    • 14 July 2011
    • Guidance
  4. Using the European Social Fund logo

    • 14 July 2011
    • Guidance
  5. ESF 2007 to 2013: newsletters

    • 23 March 2015
    • Guidance
  6. European Social Fund 2014 to 2020: plans

    • 1 May 2014
    • Guidance
  7. ESF 2007 to 2013: EC regulations

    • 5 July 2006
    • Statutory guidance
  8. ESF 2007 to 2013: glossary

    • 1 January 2008
    • Guidance

Operational programme

Information about the ESF operational programme including:

  • the programme’s priorities, objectives and target groups
  • how it’s being implemented
  1. ESF operational programme for England and Gibraltar: 2007 to 2013

    • 12 December 2011
    • Corporate report
  2. ESF 2007 to 2013: objectives and funding allocations

    • 23 October 2006
    • Guidance
  3. ESF 2007 to 2013: communication plan

    • 14 November 2011
    • Corporate report

Project funding and annual implementation reports

Details of ESF funding for regions and projects and annual reports explaining how the ESF has been implemented.

  1. European Social Fund (ESF) annual implementation reports

    • 10 December 2014
    • Corporate report

Case studies and how ESF improves people's lives

Our ESF case studies explain how ESF money has improved people’s lives.

  1. European Social Fund in England: improving people’s lives 2013 to 2014

    • 3 November 2014
    • Promotional material

Gender equality and equal opportunities

The ESF programme takes gender equality and equal opportunities into account in everything it does by:

  • making sure that providers of ESF services take equality into account – for example, in procurement and contract management
  • funding services designed to remedy inequality or provide specialist support

Read about increasing the number of women taking part in ESF-funded training in a research report and case studies published by the Skills Funding Agency.

  1. ESF 2007 to 2013: gender equality and equal opportunities plan and progress report

    • 16 April 2014
    • Corporate report
  2. Gender equality: ESF good practice guide

    • 1 March 2012
    • Guidance
  3. Helping disabled people back to work: ESF good practice guide

    • 2 August 2007
    • Guidance
  4. Ethnic minority communities, equality and diversity: ESF good practice guide

    • 4 June 2008
    • Guidance
  5. Age equality and diversity: ESF good practice guide

    • 5 June 2008
    • Guidance
  6. Increasing women’s participation in ESF

    • 19 February 2013
    • Corporate report
  7. European Social Fund: 2007 to 2013

    • 15 August 2011
    • Impact assessment

Sustainable development

The ESF programme aims to take sustainable development into account by:

  • requiring all ESF projects to have sustainable development policies and implementation plans which demonstrate how they are taking environment into account when delivering their ESF activities
  • enabling ESF to be used to support projects which have an environmental focus while also supporting jobs and/or skills
  1. ESF 2007 to 2013: sustainable development mainstreaming plan, progress report and lessons learned

    • 4 September 2014
    • Corporate report

Evaluation and research

We’ve published a collection of our ESF evaluation research.

We’ve listed our research strategy and guidance for people taking part in the European Social Fund cohort study 2012 below.

  1. ESF evaluation strategy: 2007 to 2013

    • 1 April 2013
    • Corporate report
  2. ESF cohort study 2012: information for respondents

    • 1 September 2012
    • Guidance