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.


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.

Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) 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:

The ESF programme continues to invest in projects after the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. All funding must finish by the end of 2023.

Published 16 July 2015
Last updated 6 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. Grey text box stating that the funding will continue post transition period has been updated slightly in terms of tense to reflect that the transition period has now ended.

  2. Changed Big Lottery to National Lottery Community Fund and added correct website address.

  3. Amended the links on the page from the 'National Offender Management Service' to 'Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS)' and from the 'Skills Funding Agency (SFA)' to 'Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)'.

  4. The opt-in organisations bullet about the Department for Work and Pensions has been amended

  5. Updated National Offender Management Service information

  6. Letter to Providers on the DWP Co-financing Organisation current position has been updated.

  7. Information added on the latest DWP co-financing organisation position

  8. Corrected the description of DWP as an opt-in organisation purpose and link to the Government UK contracts finder tool.

  9. First published.