Ecorys was commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to undertake the evaluation of the provision in the second half of the current England and Gibraltar ESF Convergence, Competitiveness and Employment Operational Programme (OP) 2007-2013. The focus for the research is Priority 1 and Priority 4 provision, by a number of Co-financing Organisations (CFOs) including the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Skills Funding Agency, and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).
It was commissioned to review implementation and delivery and the study follows on from a previous evaluation of this provision undertaken in the first half of the programme. The overall evaluation aim was to assess whether provision is being implemented as expected. The study concentrates on evaluating the processes connected to this provision and its delivery, including those relating to the delivery chains and referral processes established to support implementation. The study comprised of ESF activity being assessed through a qualitative, case study based approach.
Thirteen case studies examined the delivery of provision across all CFOs . A further case study examined the delivery of non co-financed provision. Case studies involved in-depth interviews with CFO representatives, managers and delivery staff from providers, and representatives from organisations referring participants onto provision. Additionally, a small number of ESF participants were also consulted. A total of 187 interviews were undertaken.
Key aims are summarised as follows:
- To understand how ESF provision is being tailored to participant needs and how it complements mainstream provision.
- To examine the processes connected to the ESF delivery chain, from the referral process through the range of hand-overs to the nature of provision being delivered, assessing the degree to which these have been implemented as expected.
- To understand the degree to which provision aimed at supporting different groups (e.g. economically inactive, workless families, offenders) has been implemented as intended.
- To link up with the evaluations of the Work Programme and the Jobcentre Plus Offer to benefit customers pre-Work Programme.
The report was commissioned in January 2012 in response to the ESF Evaluation Strategy for the programming period 2007-2013. The research will help meet European Commission requirements to evaluate ESF, and will contribute to the suite of research being undertaken to improve the evidence base on the delivery of the European Social Fund (ESF). It will also provide evidence to inform the development of the 2014-2020 ESF programme.