Guidance

England 2014 to 2020 European Social Fund partner information

ESF co-financing organisations (opt-in organisations) role in the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds programme.

Introduction

European Social Fund (ESF) co-financing organisations (CFO), also known as opt-in organisations (OiO):

  • Match European Social Fund and match funding (domestic public funding)
  • Contract other organisations known as providers to manage European Social Fund projects
  • Ensure that European Social Fund funded projects complement national schemes like the Work Programme

Normally you can only get European Structural and Investment funding to pay for between 50% and 80% of project costs, depending on whether its location is in a more developed, transition or less developed area.

In many areas you can apply to get up to 100% of the project costs through co-financed European Social Fund funding. This route enables all eligible costs to be met by European Social Fund, rather than applicants providing and accounting for the match funding part.

Co-financing organisations provide the required eligible match funding and use their expertise to procure and contract manage, or grant fund, European Social Fund provision. In the 2014-2020 European Social Fund programme most co-financing organisations act as opt-in organisations by funding locally defined activities through an open, transparent and competitive grant-giving or procurement process.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) will continue to operate as a co-financing organisation (CFO) for the 2014–2020 ESF Operational Programme and has a national allocation from the ESF Managing Authority. A CFO since 2009, NOMS CFO utilises ESF monies to deliver services to offenders in custody and the community via third party organisations, which promote social inclusion and move individuals closer to mainstream activity and the labour market. Moving offenders successfully on to other provision is a key aim, with those considered hard to reach the main focus of delivery.

Who are the opt-in organisations

The opt-in organisations for the European Social Fund which form part of the European Structural Investment Fund are:

  • Big Lottery Fund: As a European Social Fund co-financing organisation the Big Lottery Fund’s Building Better Opportunities supports projects that tackle poverty, improve employability and promote social inclusion.

  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP): as a European Social Fund co-financing organisation, the DWP funds projects to improve employability and support the move to sustained employment – for access to work and employment opportunities read the latest letter to providers on the DWP CFO and refer to the Government UK contracts finder.

  • Skills Funding Agency (SFA) The SFA funds skills training for further education in England. As a European Social Fund co-financing organisation, the SFA helps deliver the learning and skills elements of local European Structural and Investment Fund strategies.

Published 16 July 2015
Last updated 25 May 2016 + show all updates
  1. The opt-in organisations bullet about the Department for Work and Pensions has been amended
  2. Updated National Offender Management Service information
  3. Letter to Providers on the DWP Co-financing Organisation current position has been updated.
  4. Information added on the latest DWP co-financing organisation position
  5. Corrected the description of DWP as an opt-in organisation purpose and link to the Government UK contracts finder tool.
  6. First published.