Tackling poverty, removing employment barriers and up-skilling the workforce are the key priorities for Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership when it comes to spending a multi-million pound share of European Social Funding.

Hertfordshire has been notionally allocated around £30 million from the European Social Fund (ESF), with 80 per cent to be spent on promoting employment and supporting labour mobility, investing in education, skills and lifelong learning.

The remaining 20 per cent, equivalent to around £5 million, of this sum is to be spent on activity helping those most removed from the labour market into work and combating poverty. This funding will be matched 50/50 by the BIG Lottery Fund, doubling the pot to in excess of £11 million for the county.

Hertfordshire LEP in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) invited around 80 training provider delegates to the BioPark, Welwyn Garden City, on Thursday 25 November to find out more about the bidding process. The programme is expected to be launched between January and July 2015, with initial bidding opportunities scheduled from August onwards, and the first bids approved later in the year.

Julie Maclachlan and Jane Devlin, from Beds and Herts DWP, and Amanda Montague, from SFA South East, outlined how the application and tendering processes will work for training providers.

Hertfordshire LEP’s Skills and Employment Manager Norman Jennings said: “The successful delivery of this fund will have a major impact on the employment and skills agenda across Hertfordshire and the local economy over the next seven years. The LEP plays a vital role in helping to shape this agenda and creating the right conditions for businesses to flourish.”

Andy Luff, Hertfordshire LEP consultant, gave an overview of the funding process and how the BIG Lottery Fund’s cash-match offer will create a big opportunity for the voluntary sector to deliver on projects that promote social inclusion.

This is the second of two key ESF information-sharing events organised by Hertfordshire LEP. On Thursday 13 November, Hertfordshire LEP in partnership with the BIG Lottery Fund invited around 90 delegates from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector to find out more about the bidding and partnership-building process.

Policy and Learning Manager Jonathan Clark outlined why the BIG Lottery Fund was so keen to get involved as the European Social Fund’s aims closely mirrored its mission to make a real difference to communities and the lives of people most in need.

He said that in the last financial year 92 per cent of BIG Lottery funding had gone to the Voluntary Community Sector, and added: “We believe local delivery is better delivery and we’ll get better outcomes that way.”

Please click here to see slides from the day.