Research and analysis

Early impacts of the European Social Fund 2007 to 2013

Findings from an evaluation of the net impacts of the ESF programme for England.



By Paul Ainsworth and Simon Marlow

The European Social Fund (ESF) was set up to improve employment opportunities in the European Union and so help raise standards of living. Its aim is to help people fulfil their potential by giving them better skills and better job prospects. Employment support provided through the European Social Fund is varied and flexible. It includes activities such as job search guidance, basic skills training, case worker support and advice on tackling specific barriers to work.

This paper describes findings from an evaluation of the net impacts of the 2007 to 2013 European Social Fund (ESF) Programme for England. The study focused on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ESF-funded employment provision part of the programme.

In this paper we estimate the impacts of ESF support on participants who entered the programme between June 2008 and April 2009. We provide separate impact estimates for 2 broad DWP customer groups, participants in receipt of:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance