Press release

Next phase of European Social Fund begins

Helping some of the most disadvantaged and unskilled people back to work continues to be the top priority of the European Social Fund (ESF).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Helping some of the most disadvantaged and unskilled people back to work continues to be the top priority of the European Social Fund (ESF), Employment Minister Chris Grayling said today.

Speaking via video-link at a conference in Birmingham to mark the half-way point of the 2007-2013 England ESF programme, the Minister reviewed the Fund’s achievements so far and looked ahead to how the next phase will support the priorities of the Coalition Government.

The 2007-2013 ESF England programme is investing around £365m per year to help unemployed and disadvantaged people in the UK back to work and to improve workforce skills.

ESF projects are delivered by a range of providers from the private, public and voluntary sectors, working together to meet the needs of participants. Activities include help with CV writing, job search support, interview techniques, basic skills and vocational training, pre-employment and work placement opportunities and support after people start work.

Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling said:

Today’s conference is an opportunity for us to review performance so far and set the scene for how we can ensure the ESF programme supports and adds value to our welfare reform agenda, including the introduction of our new Work Programme early next year.

Peter Stub Jorgensen, Director of Employment for the European Commission, said:

The ESF programme continues to be an effective and flexible tool in helping combat the effects of the economic downturn, boasting over 2 million participants in England and Gibraltar, already exceeding the target for the entire 2007-13 programme period.

Fund activities have helped over 180,000 young people move into education, employment or training so far. Overall, the programme is well on the way to meeting its main objectives and the European Commission looks forward to continued success and commitment in order to achieve all programme targets by 2013”.

Notes to Editors

  • The European Social Fund (ESF) aims to improve employment opportunities in the European Union. It supports Member States’ employment and skills policies and contributes to the Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and smart sustainable and inclusive growth. The whole of the EU is eligible for ESF funds, but the highest intensities are targeted on the poorest (‘Convergence’) regions. In England, Cornwall has Convergence status. The ESF Operational Programme in England and Gibraltar for the period 2007-13 has an overall budget of £5 billion of which the ESF contribution is £2.5 billion.
  • The programme’s achievements so far include helping over 140,000 unemployed and inactive people into work and enabling over 200,000 people to gain qualifications at Level 2 and above.
  • Providers access ESF funding through public agencies known as Co-financing Organisations. These agencies, such as the DWP, Skills Funding Agency and National Offender Management Service, distribute ESF funding to providers through open and competitive tendering processes. Co-financing Organisations identify the national match funding. During autumn 2010 and early 2011, ESF Co-financing Organisations are launching new ESF tendering rounds worth about £1.1 billion for the 2011-2013 phase.
  • The conference is an opportunity for over 200 key ESF partners, policy makers and providers to evaluate the successes of the first half of the 2007-2013 ESF programme in England, share effective practice and discuss priorities set by the Coalition Government for the second half.
  • The devolved administrations are responsible for separate ESF programmes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • More information on the England ESF programme can be found at:
Published 17 November 2010