European Social Fund (ESF) Support for Families with Multiple Problems

ESF Support for Families with Multiple Problems provision aims to tackle entrenched worklessness in England by helping families with multiple problems get closer to employment.



Support for Families with Multiple Problems Provision is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and aims to tackle entrenched worklessness in England by progressing people in families with multiple problems closer to employment.

The provision is aimed at families with multiple problems and complex needs where:

  • at least one member of the family receives a DWP working age benefit
  • either no one in the family is working, or there is a history of worklessness across generations

This provision is voluntary and focuses on providing a whole family approach, making support available to individual family members across the generations. It involves Providers working closely with local authorities to identify families who can benefit from this provision.

Provider guidance

European Social Fund (ESF) Support for Families with Multiple Problems provider guidance focuses on the procedures and processes to be followed which specifically relate to this provision. It should be used in conjunction with the Provider Generic Guidance – this gives provider requirements and background information about all DWP Employment Related Programmes.

The ESF Live Running Memos keep you informed about the latest information around ESF provision.

Raising questions

Providers and Local Authorities should raise any questions about ESF Support for Families with Multiple Problems Provision, which are not covered in the provider guidance, with their Performance Manager or their Jobcentre Plus ESF Manager.

ESF real life stories

Find out more about the ESF Families Provision in the collection ESF real life stories.

Supported Adult Learners’ Week Award Winners from May 2013.

Other DWP initiatives funded by ESF

ESF primarily funds places on provision where participation is voluntary. There are 2 programmes where participation is mandatory. These are Community Work Placements and Supervised Jobsearch Pilots.

Community Work Placements and ESF

The Community Work Placements programme began in May 2014 and, in England, is part-funded by the European Social Fund, under DWP’s co-financing agreements.

The programme is mandatory for JSA claimants returning from the Work Programme whose key barrier to work is a lack of work experience, motivation or both. Read a list of Community Work Placement suppliers.

Supervised Jobsearch Pilots and ESF

Supervised Jobsearch Pilots began in October 2014 and are funded by the European Social Fund, under DWP’s co-financing agreements.

The pilots test the impact of supervised jobsearch support on JSA claimants. The successful bidders and the areas they are delivering in are:

  • Skills Training Ltd – Surrey and Sussex
  • G4S – West Yorkshire
  • Learn Direct – Black Country and Mercia

ESF is also used to fund places on the Work Programme for Incapacity Benefit and Income Support claimants to participate on a voluntary basis.

Other useful ESF resources

Find out more about the Progress Measures ESF for families with multiples problem providers must demonstrate.

ESF Managing Authority - ESF’s website for the overarching authority in England, including information about all co-financing organisations delivering ESF provision. This site provides a helpful overview of ESF in general.

ESF Publicity Works Toolkit – Information about marketing ESF provision.

DWP Communications Centre - information for providers about displaying and downloading the ESF logo

ESF Booklet - Improving People’s Lives 2013-2014 - A booklet outlining how ESF is making real and sustained changes to people’s lives.

Local Government Association website

About the Department for Communities and Local Government - responsible for delivering the Troubled Families agenda

National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) Adult Learners Week

CPA Event Feedback - Throughout summer 2012, key stakeholders delivering Families provision hosted a series of regional forums. Main points of discussion are captured here.

Good Practice Report - Over the summer, the DWP Work Programme Division began a good practice review with selected Local Authorities. Initial interviews were arranged in CPAs 3 and 4 (London), with assistance of the London Councils, this report summarises the findings from that initial phase.

Good Practice Report (second phase) - The second phase of the DWP’s review of good practice in selected Local Authorities is now complete. In this phase of the review, interviewers went into much more depth, aiming to build up a picture of how Local Authority services worked with vulnerable families before the launch of the ESF Families provision, how their engagement with the prime providers and delivery agents had progressed and how the new provision added value to their services.